price controls

By Carlos Mera, Rabobank

As the world grapples with major economic and geo-political changes, we have predicted that food prices – which like all commodities are influenced by such forces – will remain low during 2017.

We believe the fundamentals support that view: while the spectre of inflation stalks some economies, stock levels of food commodities are at record levels, applying some downward pressure to prices. Many of these reserves are held by China. Therefore, what action the world’s most populous country takes in 2017 will have profound repercussions for everybody else. Read more

The tomato once enjoyed a quiet life in Argentina, mixed with lettuce and onion or grated carrot in a traditional accompaniment to a juicy steak. No longer. Today, it is at the centre of an economic ruckus involving a supermarket worker, President Cristina Fernández and her ministers. Read more

So, Russia is considering price freezes to provide some relief for stretched household budgets and get the country’s economy going again. Investors are likely to be dismayed. Ordinary Russians should be, too. Read more

Argentina has frozen fuel prices for six months – it’s latest pre-electoral inflation busting wheeze.

The new measure, which follows a temporary supermarket price freeze which has already been extended to June 1, will remain in force until just before mid-term congressional elections which the government needs to win to bolster its chances of perpetuating its “model”, or maybe even its president (if she seeks constitutional changes to run for a third term) in the 2015 presidential vote. Read more

Indian sugar companies are rejoicing after the government finally lifted its curbs on sugar supplies.

India’s food minister, KV Thomas announced on Thursday evening that there will no longer be an obligation on Indian sugar mills to sell their produce to the government at concessional rates and there will no longer be a limit on the quantity they can sell on the open market. Read more

King Canute commanding the waves to go back to Bosham

Inflation-hit Argentina has just agreed a new round of price freezes with major supermarkets, neighbourhood stores and white goods retailers until April 1.

Fine… except that even Cristina Fernández, the president, is sceptical that such accords actually work and even some of the participants see it as a futile, Canute-like exercise. Read more

While many will praise the noble intentions behind the Venezuelan government’s inauguration of a nationwide network of subsidised pharmacies on Monday, just as many will reject it as a populist stunt ahead of October’s presidential elections.

Perhaps it’s a bit of both – but will it work? Read more