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The World’s Food & Energy Crises

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After governments of major countries imposed lockdowns and restrictions, implemented reportedly because of the virus, shortages of various goods and services started to happen. Daily News

This was so, because many businesses and enterprises were required to close or to operate with many limitations and restrictions.

Vaccine mandates caused many workers to leave their jobs.

But after Russia invaded Ukraine and after the West impose stringent sanctions against Russia, shortages of various commodities have become acute.

In particular, sanctions imposed against Russian exports of petroleum and gas have resulted in fewer supplies and higher prices.

Russia is the world’s third largest exporter of oil.

For its part, Russia’s sanctions imposed against Ukraine, which has been a major exporter of wheat, have disrupted supplies of wheat.

Russia has been blockading Ukraine’s ports at the Black Sea.

According to ANS, the war in Ukraine caused many many to flee their farms.

Russia and Ukraine account for about 25% of the world’s exports of wheat.

Less wheat is being exported from Russia because of embargoes imposed against that country; for its part, Ukraine is exporting less wheat because of the war’s disruptions.

According to the UN, nearly 6 million people have become refugees, fleeing the devastation brought about by the war.

An exacerbating aspect of dire conditions has been that of monetary policy.

Whereas for a number of years, following the onset of the financial crisis of 2008, the world’s central banks, including and especially central banks like the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England, have kept interest rates low, reportedly because rates of inflation have increased during the past year, central banks have been increasing interest rates, making credit less available and more expensive.

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A man wearing a face mask to protect from the coronavirus rides on a bicycle past a quiet road near the shuttered China World Trade Center, left, following a COVID-19 case was detected in the building on Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Beijing. China is staying with a “zero-COVID” strategy of lockdowns and other restrictions despite the economic costs and the fact that many other countries around the world are loosening up and trying to live with the virus. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

For its part, China’s economy has been faltering, partially because it has been imposing stringent lockdowns, reportedly due to an increase in the number of virus cases.

Restrictions and lockdowns in China have caused a decrease in the supplies of goods and services China exports, making those items more expensive.

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The world’s economy has been affected substantially by lockdowns and sanctions imposed against Russia.

For example, according to the International Monetary Fund, the world’s economy is expected to grow at a rate of about 3.5%; last year the world’s economy grew about 6%.

Although economic disruptions are felt in developed country in the form of higher prices for particular goods and services and the shuttering of small and medium-sized businesses and increases in drug abuse, alcoholism and instances of suicide, in less developed countries the effects have been catostrophic.

Last year, after months of lockdowns imposed in various countries, prices of fuel and pharmaceuticals rose to such levels that Lebanon saw riots and unrest.

This year those types of problems are being seen in other less developed countries.

Sri Lanka’s government recently fell over demonstrations and riots over rising fuel prices.

According to the International Rescue Committee, in the Horn of Africa, more than 14 million people are close to starvation.

Last week the World Food Program warned that blockades against Ukraine’s ports threatened to decrease the availability of food in a number of countries, including Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.

The United Nations Conference on Trade & Development reported that Ukraine and Russia supply all the wheat imported by Somalia and Benin; a number of other African countries import a substantial a considerable amount of wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, export prices of wheat have increased by more than 20%, the World Food Program reported.

The combination of lockdowns & qurantines imposed in developed countries during the past few years and the war in Ukraine has caused scarcer supplies and higher prices of wheat.

For its part, India, which is the world’s 2nd largest exporter of wheat, recently reduced the amount of wheat it is allowing for export, further reducing wheat supplies normally exported to various countries.

While the war in Ukraine is a recent variable affecting rates of inflation and supplies, even before the war quarantines imposed over the virus story were causing disruptions in supplies and services.

Rates of inflation were increasing even before the war, compared to inflation rates before March 2020, when many countries commenced to impose quarantines and lockdowns.

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In the US, for instance, by October of 2020, over 100,000 businesses had been shuttered, many permnanently, due to restrictions and quarantines.

Restrictions were imposed over a virus that, according to STatista, an award-winning service that compiles & analyzes data for governments and corporations, in the US, for example, has had a mortality rate of about .07%.

In previous years, when the seasonal flu was reported, at times the flu had a mortality rate of about .10%.

During the past few years it’s been reported that the recovery rate of the virus was 99% for most age groups.

Whatever the overarching cause of higher rates of inflation and disruptions of supplies, hunger and shortages are becoming more common in less developed countries.

But even in developed countries like the US, inflation has increased substantially.

Prices for various goods and services have increased by rates not seen since the early 1980’s.

Recently Consumer Price Index, which is released by the Department of Labor, showed an increase of about 8% compared to a year ago.

Speculation in commodities has increased in recent months, according to ANS.

ANS reports that speculators were responsible for about 71% of the purchasing activity at a major wheat market, compared to about 25% before the onset of quarantines and lockdowns.

While speculators and various corporations have taken advantage of market conditions, lockdowns caused major disruptions in supplies and services, even before the war in Ukraine.

Aggravating inflation rates have been policies that were implemented by major central banks.

In March 2020, for example, the Federal Reserve embarked on a massive program of monetary expansion.

It did so by purchasing until recent weeks several trillion dollars’ worth of corporate and government bonds.

During the past so many weeks it has pulled back a bit from that program, and since the beginning of the year, it has raised interest rates.

As a consequence of a change in that policy, yields on 10 year Treasury bonds have risen to about 3.1%, according to ANS.

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