Food prices in international markets have spiked three times in the past five years. Most governments responded by altering trade restrictions to insulate the domestic market. Did this work? This column presents new research suggesting that altering trade restrictions has less impact than is commonly thought. Since there are other options – such as conditional cash transfers – that could better, more efficiently and more equitably protect against poverty, it is time we sought a multilateral agreement to desist from changing restrictions on trade when international food prices spike.
Kym Anderson, Maros Ivanic , Will Martin, Saturday, August 3, 2013
Peter Debaere, Wednesday, August 22, 2012
As droughts, record temperatures and high crop prices remind us, the world’s water supply is not co-located with the world’s water demand. This column takes a factor-abundance trade-theory approach to the problem and suggests that open markets that make specialisation of production possible may offer a way to fight water scarcity.
Kym Anderson, Signe Nelgen, Sunday, August 12, 2012
The recent upward spike in the international price of food led some countries to raise export barriers. This paper provides new evidence on change in domestic and international food prices, compares it with responses during previous food price spike periods, and suggests stronger WTO regulation on export restrictions.
Nadia Rocha, Paolo Giordani, Michele Ruta, Wednesday, May 9, 2012
International food prices are on the rise and becoming increasing volatile, reaching crisis levels in recent years. This column argues that one overlooked reason for this is the rise in protectionist policies aimed at restricting food exports.
Simon J Evenett, Frédéric Jenny, Wednesday, February 15, 2012
After several decades of quiescence, global commodity prices almost doubled in 2008 and, after a brief fall, rose again in 2011. The papers in this new CEPR eReport aim to identify and assess the importance of the factors responsible for the recent increases in the levels and volatility of commodity prices.
Marga Peeters, Ronald Albers, Wednesday, February 23, 2011
World food prices are now even higher than their peak just before the global crisis. During periods of high commodity prices, North African and Middle Eastern governments have a long tradition of subsidising food and fuel products. But this column shows that food price inflation and consequently subsidies were also high during periods when global commodity prices were falling. Now these countries have an opportunity to correct this.
Luis AV Catão, Roberto Chang, Thursday, January 27, 2011
Rising food prices once again pose central banks a tricky question. How far should they ignore food price inflation? This column suggests that food tends to have stronger predictive power on global inflation cycles than oil. The problem is more severe in emerging markets where consumption basket weights for food are two or three times larger than in rich nations. Central banks should pay close attention.
M. Ataman Aksoy, Bernard Hoekman, Friday, October 8, 2010
The contributions in this latest book from CEPR and the World Bank review trends in international prices and trade patterns of key food commodities, and assess the incidence of food price changes in a number of developing countries using household level data on sources of incomes and consumption patterns.
Kym Anderson, Friday, November 13, 2009
Global food price volatility is costly. This column argues that most food price spikes are driven by major policy shifts, such as tariffs and subsidies, which result in harmful tit-for tat behaviour. It makes the case for completing the Doha round to further restrain WTO members’ unilateral actions.
José Cuesta, Friday, August 7, 2009
The food crisis caught some policymakers off guard. Will they be ready next time? This column argues that most studies of the crisis offer little in the way of tractable policy responses. This knowledge gap leaves policymakers unprepared to prevent or mitigate the next food price crisis.
Maros Ivanic , Will Martin, Friday, November 21, 2008
Rising food prices are hurting many poor people across the globe. This column defends agricultural liberalisation, showing that agricultural protection actually increased over the last quarter-century in most poor countries and arguing that self-sufficiency would worsen food security. Policymakers should give direct aid to the very poor rather than resorting to export restrictions.
Nora Lustig, Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sharp increases in world food prices over the last few years have impoverished millions. This column outlines the inadequacy of many countries’ safety nets and proposes means by which the international community might help poor consumers cope with rising food prices.
Erik Berglöf, Friday, October 17, 2008
Erik Berglof, chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the interlinkages between food markets, financial markets and development, particularly in the countries in which the EBRD operates, from central Europe to central Asia. The interview was recorded at the EBRD headquarters in London in October 2008 following a public discussion meeting on ‘Rising food prices: causes, consequences and remedies’.
Peter Timmer, Friday, October 10, 2008
Peter Timmer of Stanford University and the Centre for Global Development talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the causes of high food prices – including the growth of China and India, dollar depreciation, biofuels and speculation – and the consequences – notably the renewed incentives for investment in raising agricultural productivity. The interview was recorded at the headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London in October 2008 following a public discussion meeting on ‘Rising food prices: causes, consequences and remedies’.
Nora Lustig, Friday, October 10, 2008
Nora Lustig of George Washington University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about rising food prices – causes of the recent increases and how developing countries and international institutions should respond. The interview was recorded at the headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London in October 2008 following a public discussion meeting on ‘Rising food prices: causes, consequences and remedies’.
Juan Delgado, Indhira Santos, Thursday, October 9, 2008
The financial crisis has turned attention away from the food crisis. Low- and middle-income countries face significant challenges, and this column proposes EU policy changes that could help.
Joseph Francois, Friday, August 1, 2008
The WTO talks were as much a distraction as an opportunity. The agenda was aimed at a world that no longer exists. Negotiations of some form should and will resume: the questions are "where?" and "between whom?" Success will require a different game, with different rules and different players. This column considers the options.
Rachel Griffith, Lars Nesheim, Monday, July 14, 2008
How much are households willing to pay for organic products? How does this vary across households? Why are people "going organic"? The authors of CEPR DP6905 look to answer these questions for the UK.
Stefan Tangermann, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
New research shows that India, China, and speculators are not the culprits in the food price explosion. Biofuels were a significant element in the 2005-2007 food price surge as they accounted for 60% of the growth in global consumption of cereals and vegetable oils. There cannot be any doubt that biofuels were a significant element in the rise of food prices. Since new research also shows that biofuel support policies are disappointingly ineffective on environmental grounds, governments should reconsider them.
Esther Duflo, Friday, April 25, 2008
Rising food prices are hurting many poor people, but they are helping poor agricultural producers. Food price volatility, on the other hand, is bad for everyone. This column explains poor people’s need for food price variability insurance.