On what capitalism hath wrought

Russia and the Ukraine had been expected to supply 18% of the wheat traded internationally.

Oh aye?

Trade between the United States and the Soviet Union averaged about 1 percent of total trade for both countries through the 1970s and 1980s. Soviet-American trade peaked in 1979 at US$4.5 billion, exactly 1 percent of total United States trade. The Soviet Union continuously ran a trade deficit with the United States in the 1970s and early 1980s, but from 1985 through 1987 the Soviet Union cut imports from the United States while maintaining its level of exports to balance trade between the two countries.[1]

In 1987 total trade between the United States and the Soviet Union amounted to US$2 billion. The Soviet Union exported chemicals, metals (including gold), and petroleum products in addition to fur skins, alcoholic beverages, and fish products to the United States and received agricultural goods–mostly grain– and industrial equipment in return. The value of exports to the Soviet Union in 1987 amounted to US$1.5 billion, three-quarters of which consisted of agricultural products and one-quarter industrial equipment.[1]

Competition from other parts of the world, improvements in Soviet grain production, and political disagreements between the two countries adversely affected American agricultural exports to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. In 1985 and 1986, trade was the lowest since 1973. The Soviet Union had turned to Canada and Western Europe for one-third of its grain supplies, as well as to Argentina, Eastern Europe, Australia, and China. United States government price subsidies helped to expand grain exports in 1987 and 1988.

Hmmm.

I think I\’m right in saying that the crop, the harvest, hasn\’t increased at all. It\’s that rather less of it rots in the field or in transit.

What a complete bastard thing this capitalism is, eh? Much better if we have wise governments intervening in markets to stop the filthy speculators profiting:

In India, the problem is different. The world\’s second-largest wheat grower banned exports in 2007 in order to boost local supplies and prices, and stocks are high. Moreover, strong seasonal rains are leading to expectations of a bumper crop. But grains the government stockpiled after last year\’s drought are being stored under thin plastic sheets, and some is already washing away. The result: The rotting grains have contributed to India\’s rising food prices. Local wheat prices have risen about 12% to 1,230 rupees ($26.52) per 100 kilograms in the past three months.

\”It is gross mismanagement and negligence,\” says D.H Pai Panandikar, a New Delhi-based economist and president of the RPG Foundation, a think tank. \”If only you had handed over the grain to the private sector, not a grain would have been lost. But now, it is nobody\’s grain.\”

Yeah, riiiiight.

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