Thursday, August 15, 2013

Root of Egypt's Unrest

Egypt is going through it's third round of protests. There were the 2011 protests against the tyrannical Mubarak. There were the early 2013 protests against the tyrannical and ineffective Morsi. There are now the Muslim Brotherhood inspired protests against the military led coup/non-coup in August of 2013. All protests get the support of the American media. To recap, these protesters are protesting the will of the protesters who protested the first protesters' will. Looks like the Muslim Brotherhood is taking my advice on inciting violence and lingering around to get invited to the table by the big boys. This will work because eradicating 100% of an insurgency is next to impossible, and it appears the US is sympathetic more to the MB than the Egyptian military (Blue/Red empire divide). Lost in all of this is food. Simple fact of Egyptian life is that if food is expensive, the people will riot.

Let's jump into the wayback machine and check out wheat prices. Wheat went through the same crack up boom of nearly all commodities in 2007-2008 (go to the 10 year chart). That was the same time every idiot was saying peak this and peak that, as if the entire world was running out of every commodity at the same time. It was  monetary phenomenon. The FED can't control where liquidity goes, and in 2007-2008, it went into commodities. The price of wheat skyrocketed from $195/ton to $326/ton by September of 2007 to $439/ton by May of 2008. By January of 2009, wheat prices were back to the low $200/ton. You know what else flared up during late 2007 into 2008 only to subside by January of 2009? Egyptian social unrest and protests. There was a political basis that was boosted by unrest over food inflation. Much easier to wrangle protesting hordes from hungry masses. Carnegie didn't notice the correlation or causation. These protests were swept under the rug in the West as we went through our form of inflation anger (gas and evil Bush). Wheat prices cam down, the Egyptian government cracked down on dissidents, and the Egyptian authorities made sure bread subsidies kept the prices in check.

Hidden from Mubarak and the Egyptian military (and many sane people), Ben Bernanke was warming up the computers for QE 1, 2, 3 etc. QE 2 started in late 2010, and commodity prices responded. Some investors frontran the QE2 and started boosting commodities. Wheat popped up starting in mid 2010, jumping from $157/ton to $279/ton by September. By January of 2011, the price of wheat was back to $320/ton. It got worse. Similar price spike as in 2007/2008. What else started in January of 2011? Hungry Egyptians who couldn't afford food started protesting in the millions. Egyptians spend 38-45% of their income on food (data depends on source). This was no cry for freedom. It was simply peasants wanting to be able to eat and begging for a leadership class that would provide affordable food. That is their social contract. It's been the same since the Pharaohs.

There is no politics involved by the people in the streets. They are just hungry. The politics is in the leadership of the Islamist parties (especially the MB with their foreign funding) and the US State department looking to replace a military hierarchy and Red Empire client with a weak and needy democratic power. The top dog part of the Egyptian social contract is the battle, as are the economic spoils that go to said top dog. The NY Times is silent on the hunger front, which may be for want to portray any conflict as one of man on the street political will and voice. The new struggle over political power is where they want to focus rather than the basic functions of government, which the Egyptian military could handle well as they did throughout Mubarak's reign.

The sinister connection is back to our monetary policies. The Times is also silent on the Wall Street-FED connection to manipulating food prices and toying with consumers both in the first and third world for a daily profit and year end bonus. The origins of this lay way back in the year 2000 with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and a little quote from Mr. Robert Rubin that commodity traders don't make money in times of stable commodity prices with little fluctuation. Rubin learned this when Goldman bought Aron in the early '80s. He wrote, "the relative stability of commodity prices, improved communications, and increased competition had eliminated the meaningful profit opportunity". They need volatility to make money. Mubarak, stable food prices for third world countries and marginal third world citizens are collateral damage for the boys on Wall Street. Games are played, bonuses are paid. Hey, it's only food.

1 comment:

PRCD said...