Not good, very bad
Two stories from the last 24 hours, the first courtesy Atrios at Eschaton:
Bakers feeling pinch of short supplies
Rye flour stocks have been depleted in the United States, and by June or July there will be no more U.S. rye flour to purchase, said Lee Sanders, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Bakers Association.
"Those that are purchasing it now are having to purchase it from Germany and the Netherlands, and that's very concerning," Sanders said.
For bakers, rye grain is not the only supply stock that is declining. In the past the market has typically had a three-month surplus of wheat stocks to serve as a cushion against supply interruptions, but now the surplus is down to less than 27 days worth of wheat, Sanders said.
Wal-Mart's Sam's Club limits rice purchases
Sam's Club, the No. 2 U.S. warehouse club operator, said it is limiting sales of Jasmine, Basmati and long grain white rice "due to recent supply and demand trends."
U.S. rice futures hitting an all-time high Wednesday on worries about supply shortages.
Food costs have soared worldwide, spurred by increased demand in emerging markets like China and India; competition with biofuels; high oil prices and market speculation.
The situation has sparked food riots in several African countries, Indonesia, and Haiti. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that higher food prices could hurt global growth and security.
Rice prices have risen 68 percent since the start of 2008.
Trade bans on rice have been put in place by India, the world's second largest exporter in 2007, and Vietnam, the third biggest, in hopes of cooling domestic prices. Rice is a staple in most of Asia.
But cripes, again, with scintillating stories on the big news websites like "Teen-repelling noisemaker draws protests" (CNN.com) and "Study: Frequent Masturbation May Stop Prostate Cancer" (foxnews.com, as if you couldn't guess), why get distracted with trivia? I'm sure the Free Market(tm) will sort it all out, after all.