Wheat prices add to CFO concerns

Wheat prices rose 25% yesterday, the biggest one-day rise ever, as Kazakhstan imposed restrictions on wheat exports.

The rationale for today’s rising prices is three-fold:
• US farmers have shifted land over to corn, to meet increased ethanol demand, and US wheat inventories are forecast to hit 60 year lows
• Emerging countries are now eating more meat, because of growing prosperity, and so more grain is required to feed livestock
• Financial players see ‘soft commodities’ such as wheat as representing a store of value, versus weak currencies such as the US$

Inevitably increases of this magnitude will feed through into higher inflation. In turn, longer-term bond rates will increase. Chemical company CFOs were already facing problems from the credit crunch. Higher food and energy prices can only make these problems worse.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. He also serves as a Global Expert for the World Economic Forum. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry and the global economy over the next 12 – 18 months. It looks behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in critical areas such as oil prices, China and Emerging Markets, currencies, autos, housing, economic growth and the environment. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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