Commodity prices may have sagged somewhat but the latest spike in food prices will not be the last. Moreover, tight markets, climate change, and the changing role of investors in commodity markets all suggest that food price volatility may be greater in the future. Even with more investment in agriculture, other tools will be needed to buffer poor people in developing countries from future food price shocks. Some policies adopted over the past year, such as export bans and price controls, were understandable in the face of rising hunger but worsened the problem in the long run. What would be better?
On Monday, October 6, 2008, CGD hosted an event, Preparing for the Next Global Food Price Crisis, to explore policies that can be put in place now to minimize hunger and instability the next time that the world faces surging food prices. Among the possibilities discussed were improved global grain stock policies, anti-inflationary policies that do not disproportionately hurt poor people, safety nets for poor consumers, and changes in biofuels policies.
Panelists included Justin Yifu Lin, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank; Nora Lustig, J. B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Visiting Professor of International Relations, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University; and Kimberly Ann Elliott, Joint Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development and the Peterson Institute. Simon Johnson, Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, served as a discussant and CGD president Nancy Birdsall moderated the event.
Access Kimberly Elliott's presentation (pdf, 368K)
Access Nora Lustig's presentation (pdf, 667K)
Read Justin Lin's prepared remarks (pdf, 103K)
Go to Simon Johnson's Baseline Scenario website.