In prior articles, I mentioned that one reason Egypt’s revolution happened now rather than in 2003 may have been due to a rapid increase in the price of food.
Last week’s edition of The Economist cited a Goldman Sachs report suggesting that the last despots left standing in the Middle East will likely subsidize oil for their citizens and stockpile food in response to the crisis. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria are already starting to do so.
While these efforts may help Middle Eastern nations soften the blow of the next popular revolution, they may indirectly be inciting one somewhere else.
Stockpiling food will further increase food prices outside the region. In turn, rising food prices could serve as an accelerant for instability, and ripple throughout Africa and Asia.
In Africa, Nigeria, which is facing an upcoming election, and Sudan, which must manage a shaky division between its north and south, could be greatly affected by this trend.
China and India, which have already been suffering from a wicked bout of inflation, could also be impacted.
The greatest wildcard is North Korea, whose people have been starving for decades. Yet another food shock might push the country, which is already involved in a very delicate intergenerational power transfer and has engaged in reckless actions about South Korea, over the edge.
Let the ripples begin…