Egypt’s Rising Food Prices

The Economic Crisis Is Driving Political Protests Sparked In Part By US Financial Speculation

Published on Global Research.ca, by Danny Schechter, January 31, 2011.

This is an upstairs/downstairs story that takes us from the peak of a Western mountaintop for the wealthy to spreading mass despair in the valleys of the Third World poor.

It is about how the solutions for the world financial crisis that the Ceos and Big pols are massaging in a posh conference center in snowy Davos Switzerland have turned into a global economic catastrophe in the streets of Cairo, the current ground zero of a certain to spread wave of international unrest. 

Yes, the tens of thousands in the streets demanding the ouster of the cruel Mubarek regime are there now pressing for their right to make a political choice but they are being driven by an economic disaster that has sent unemployment skyrocketing and food prices climbing.

People are out in the streets not just to meet but by their need to eat. As Nouriel Roubini who was among the first to predict the financial crisis while others were pooh-poohing him as “Dr Doom” says don’t just look at the crowds in Cairo but what is motivating them now, after years of silence and repression.

He says that the dramatic rise in energy and food prices has become a major global threat and a leading factor that has gone largely unreported in the coverage of events in Egypt.

“What has happened in Tunisia, is happening right now in Egypt, but also riots in Morocco, Algeria and Pakistan, are related not only to high unemployment rates and to income and wealth inequality, but also to this very sharp rise in food and commodity prices,” Roubini said. Prices in Egypt are up 17% because of a worldwide surge in commodity prices that has many factors but speculation on Wall Street and big banks is a key one … //

… The question is why aren’t Americans up in arms too as inflation at the pump and the grocery store drives princes higher here. Part of the reason is that they don’t know that the US has worse economic inequality according to a scientific measure: The Gini Coefficent Washington’s Blog reports “According to the CIA World Fact Book, the U.S. is ranked as the 42nd most unequal country in the world, with a Gini Coefficient of 45. Egypt in contrast is ranked as the 90th most unequal country, with a Gini Coefficient of around 34.4.”

He asks, “so why are Egyptians rioting, while the Americans are complacent?”

According to the report, Building a Better America, Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School demonstrate Americans consistently underestimate the amount of inequality in our nation.

And why is that? Could our media have anything to do with it, a media consumed with when it bleeds it leads, but where context and background are missing? (full text).

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