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... is the agricultural system shifting to a new equilibrium ?

I don't know.  Ask me again in about 5 years.  The last few years could be a blip with the system returning to the basic trendlines of the last 50 years.  More likely, given the shift in fundamental factors (Climate Change, decreasing productivity of marginal lands, shifting grains from food to biofuel, & etc,) a new equilibrium is in the offing.  Further, population increase is a steady input leading to a positive feedback loop lowering the food per capita statistic.  

But I don't know one is in the offing, I merely think one is.

Re: Washington Consensus

This thing is dead.  For the reasons you give and without the financial resources to force countries to comply US hegemony over the world's economic system will slowly decline.  

Economic regulations would not, in the proposed system, eliminate shipments between regional areas ; they'd be replaced by food aid (with stamps and all that). Restarting liberalization now would spell disaster once prices go back down.

Correction noted.  OK, I'll go with that.

I do note, tho', the underlying assumption - from both of us - of the existence of a surplus to distribute.  I'm not going anywhere with this, just calling it to the foreground.

Re: Food Riots

That's the floating brown stuff in the punch bowl.

TSP wrote a diary outlining the situation in Egypt.  So let me use that as the example.  With the majority of the urban population living on marginal purchasing power any perturbation carries the danger of demonstrations turning into riots turning into social unrest turning into armed civil combat.  There is already low-level urban conflict (terrorism, sic) sporadic in Egypt.  The seeds of armed combat exist.  What hasn't - yet - happened is a change in attitude among enough of the populace from resigned acquiescence or despair to active hostility to the Murbarck (sp?) government.  

Ok, how to prevent that?

Four ways:

(1) raise food production -- I doubt it
(2) lower demand by lower the population -- I doubt it
(3) increase the average pay to match rising food prices -- I doubt it
(4) do all of these and more (such as empower women) -- I doubt it

I doubt each of these because they go completely counter to the established cultural, technological, political and economic basis, structures, and trends.  

The Egyptian government may be able to stave-off a serious, widespread, challenge to its power by shifting lands from export products (flowers-to-Florence) to food production for internal use.  But at some point, at some level of population, even that won't be enough.  

This

is why.

The constant increase in population is sucking-up the world's resources and the world's ability to support that increase in population.  It. Can't. Continue.

Insane, short-sighted, policies such as liberalization, food-to-biofuel, are exacerbating the situation by removing the 'capital' we need to get from here to there and bringing the tipping point closer, faster.

Sorry. I seem to have mounted my soap box and am ranting away.  (Again.)

To cut to a conclusion: Agricultural Reform is intimately intertwined with other factors.  With de-population being, IMO, the most important.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 11:54:07 AM EST
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