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"Arab Spring Redux?" - Bloomberg Finally Connects The Dots, Higher Food Inflation Leads To Social Unrest

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jul 14, 2021 - 04:15 AM

Six months after SocGen's market skeptic Albert Edwards shared his thoughts about why he started to panic about soaring food prices and how it may cause social unrest in emerging market economies, Bloomberg chimed in with a piece titled "Arab Spring Redux? Middle East Most Exposed to Food Prices." 

Pandemic-driven hunger is already sweeping across the world as we highlighted on Monday that global food insecurity is at 15-year highs. 

Bloomberg finally connected the dots Tuesday with "international food prices close to their 2011 peaks," and it was this time ten years ago when food insecurity resulted in "waves of protests, especially in the Middle East." 

An emerging market food vulnerability scorecard shows Yemen, Sudan, and Lebanon are the most at risk for uprises due to food becoming more expensive and increasing shortages. 

For months, we've quoted some of the most influential minds who visualized the unfolding global crisis as food insecurity worsened. The only outcome they saw was future socio-economic turmoil in emerging market economies. 

We noted in the intro that everyone's favorite permabear, Edwards, who, unlike Goldman Sachs, began to worry about food inflation in December. Back then, he outlined similarities in rapid food inflation and how it played a considerable role in sparking unrest and ensuing revolutions in many Arab countries a decade ago. 

More recently, Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid reminded us that emerging markets are more vulnerable to food insecurity since their consumers spend a far greater share of their income on food than those in the developed world.

Analysts Michael Every and Michael Magdovitz of Rabobank warned that surging food prices could exacerbate global food insecurity that ultimately results in social unrest in weaker, emerging market countries. 

Already, this month, unrest has broken out in Haiti, Cuba, and South Africa. All three of these countries were already on the brink of turmoil as food insecurity became severe after the pandemic. 

For instance, in South Africa, about 20% of the population suffers from severe food insecurity. President Cyril Ramaphosa warned Monday of increasing food and medicine shortages.

The wave of unrest may continue, and it's about time Bloomberg recognized the trend. 

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