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.