Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sugar, Inflation

WSJ has an article on spiralling sugar prices today - seems like there is a production drop expected in US too next year.

There is an inflation conundrum in the world today. Pessimists are wondering - how long is it before all the money printing causes prices to explode exponentially. Optimists point out to the excess production capacity in the world and are more worried about deflation. It seems for now that the optimists have the upper hand.

However, the argument of excess capacity is not true across all sectors, industries and countries. Right now in sugar, expected demand is exceeding excess supply. And it is probably in sectors like these that we will see significant price spikes caused by low interest rates and excess liquidity - much more beyond the 94% that sugar has gone up YTD. In other words, we will see very high inflation in areas where demand exceeds supply, and low inflation/deflation in sectors where supply exceeds demand - which is true for the majority of global economy. For commodities like sugar which are traded on exchanges, it is that much more easier for speculators to pile on.

This argument can be presented in another way too. If in commodities where there is a shortage don't see 2x-4x price spikes in record low interest rate environment, then the optimists on inflation are probably right - how will we get price increase in other areas with excess capacity? So more than anything else, I think sugar is a very important case study.

Disclosure: Long Dhampur Sugar


Penny Stock Info said...

Food inflation hurts the poor the worst.

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