The Future of Food, and Capitalism

Long time no post, right? Too much work, too little time. Anyway, here’e what I’m thinking about today:

You see, for the last 25 years the world economy, the motor of the world economy that has been driving it was consumption by the American consumer who has been spending more than he has been saving, all right? Than he’s been producing. So that motor is now switched off. It’s finished. It’s run out of — can’t continue. You need a new motor. And we have a big problem. Global warming. It requires big investment. And that could be the motor of the world economy in the years to come.[…]

Instead of consuming, building an electricity grid, saving on energy, rewiring the houses, adjusting your lifestyle where energy has got to cost more until it you introduce those new things. So it will be painful. But at least we will survive and not cook.

Michael Pollan suggests we re-solarize and re-regionalize US agricultural, make it smarter, more diverse, and more labor intensive:

…the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. […]

As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution — animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete — and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot. The former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel fertilizer; the latter is remedied not at all.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners, said: “Sadly it is now impossible to call the bottom of this market rout. Irrational fear has gripped and it seems that markets will now trash almost anything that walks. What started as an asset based crisis is running into the realms of the worst financial crisis the world has ever seen.” {…]

Amid the sell-off, some analysts pointed to possible opportunities in the coming weeks.

Tim Bond, head of global asset allocation at Barclays Capital, wrote in a report on Friday: “We believe global equity markets are starting to offer a long-term buying opportunity that is typically only seen once in a generation. We are not calling the bottom in the bear market today, but we do suggest that the low will be seen within the next two or three weeks.”

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