What’s it like to be a millionaire?

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….You might have to be to be able to afford this lot in a few years time (at least in some inflation-battered and collapsed local currency)

Thanks to Mark Berggren of MMSA for pointing out this wonderful quote: “Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries”
Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

The tremendous economic boom of 2000-2007 in emerging markets might have also left millions more behind than had been previously thought as increased wealth from local prosperity – rather than from stealing foreign aid – has ended up in the hands of the middle classes.

Two new studies – one by the Asian Development Bank and the other by the World Bank – have raised the bar on definitions of poverty, largely as a result of rising food costs.

For example, the ADB believes that there are 20.1% more people in poverty in Indonesia and 15.9% more poor people in the Phillipines than it had previously thought.

The great petrochemical hope in the sky has been India, but how can a country with terrible infrastructure, poor irrigation and very low literacy rates ever give the majority of its people the joyous pleasure of buying plastic bags? The World Bank estimates that 455 million people have to get by in India on $1.35 or less a day.

The point here is that inflation will eat into all the rosy forecasts for petrochemical demand growth that were around as recently as the first quarter of this year.

How long-lasting will the damage be to growth? The answer could be how long oil prices remain elevated which comes back to your view on supply and demand.

Surging oil prices on the well-documented supply problems are big factor behind rising food costs. This is either directly through higher transportation and fertiliser bills or indirectly through the nonsense of first-generation biofuels industry in the West taking away land from food production. Plus you have the problem of all those newly middle class people in countries such as India eating more meat.

I don’t think the recent fall in crude prices changes anything. This is just a temporary correction based on weaker demand growth. When there’s an economic recovery, the supply shortage could quickly result in another downturn – hence, constant volatility above a high price floor.

I wish had bought shares in agrochemical companies a few years ago.

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