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The New York Times this morning reports that “at least 29 countries have sharply curbed food exports in recent months, to ensure that their own people have enough to eat, at affordable prices.

“When it comes to rice, India, Vietnam, China and 11 other countries have limited or banned exports. Fifteen countries, including Pakistan and Bolivia, have capped or halted wheat exports. More than a dozen have limited corn exports. Kazakhstan has restricted exports of sunflower seeds.

“The restrictions are making it harder for impoverished importing countries to afford the food they need. The export limits are forcing some of the most vulnerable people, those who rely on relief agencies, to go hungry.”

And, the Times reports, “The new restrictions are just an acute symptom of a chronic condition. Since 1980, even as trade in services and in manufactured goods has tripled, adjusting for inflation, trade in food has barely increased. Instead, for decades, food has been a convoluted tangle of restrictive rules, in the form of tariffs, quotas and subsidies.

“Now, with Australia’s farm sector crippled by drought and Argentina suffering a series of strikes and other disruptions, the world is increasingly dependent on a handful of countries like Thailand, Brazil, Canada and the United States that are still exporting large quantities of food.”

KC's View:
Meanwhile, of course, the cost of exporting virtually anything is going up.

One gets the sense in reading all these stories of a kind of domino effect taking place, as in one of those enormous displays where they push one domino over and it causes this cascading effect on thousands of pieces that creates a specific image.

Except in this case, we don't yet know what the final image will be. It’s not looking good, though.