Record Food Prices Will Likely Disrupt Energy Markets

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
By Paul Martin


Researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute (CSI) studied periods of social unrest in the Middle East and North Africa to attempt to explain the underlying causes of the riots that swept these areas in 2008 and 2011. The Cambridge-based researchers looked at a variety of factors that could trigger unrest – poverty, oppression, unemployment, etc. in an attempt to explain the disturbances.

The study found the factor most responsible for triggering riots and social unrest was rising food prices. High food prices do not trigger riots themselves according to the research, but created conditions in which social unrest could flourish.

Since the majority of the world’s crude oil is produced and exported from the Middle East and North Africa – roughly one of every two barrels is exported from this region – instability in this area would create major global economic problems.

While the anti-U.S. riots in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa that broke out last month were blamed on an American-made video, the study claims that periods of social instability in this region can be accurately predicted by food prices – and the film happened to be the trigger for the unrest.

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