The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Another Stock Up Moment

This time everyone’s talking about inflation and the coming food and fuel issues, so you’ve probably read about them.

Russia and Ukraine are the first and fifth largest exporters of wheat. Russia is an important exporter of a vast number of minerals, as well as oil, gas and coal. Sanctions are completely disrupting markets, and Russia will not be exporting any grain or sugar to Europe and ex-Soviet countries till at least August.

This will have a ripple effect thru the entire supply chain. Everything that substitutes (rice, for example) will increase in price. Of course, there have already been significant increases, and I advised stocking up multiple times in the past, but there will be more. The NYTimes notes that even before Ukraine:

Between April 2020 and December 2021, the price of wheat increased 80%.

This is likely to be a multi-year phenomenon leading to a permanent decline in almost everyone’s standard of living, but I’ll discuss that in a separate article.

This will extend far beyond food and fuel, since fuel and minerals are important in the manufacturing and services prices, as well.

For now, buy up staples which can be stored safely if you can. If you have money and need to buy anything, in general, do so now. The prices aren’t likely to be lower any time soon. If you can figure out a way to grow some of your own food or arrange to reduce your vulnerability to food prices, do so. Note that every sign is also that rent increases will continue to be significant as well, and anything you can do to reduce your vulnerability will be wise.



Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 3, 2022


Simple Ethics For Groups And Individuals


  1. Lex

    I’ve been running a poppy breeding (open pollination, selection for vigor in climate) for 5 years now. Started with a mix of imported seeds from the major poppy growing regions and have open pollination backcrossed with them against my seed stock once.

    I joked that it was my version of prepping and I wanted the seed stock and skill to ramp up production in the worst case. I’ll be expanding and seed production this year, though I probably have nearly a pound of stock split between my selections and random seed. Harvesting for latex is laborious but refining is simple chemistry. (Not that I do that step. I just grow pretty, dual use flowers.)

  2. Ché Pasa

    Some supplies and foods out here in the wilderness have never recovered from the first wave of pandemic panic buying in 2020. Prices aren’t anywhere near where they’re going to be by this time next year, but some things aren’t available at all.. well, at least not for ordinary folk trying to get by on ordinary income, shopping in ordinary markets or even sometimes online.

    I see elders on fixed incomes who despair at the grocery store. They see prices going up every week or even more often and shortages or absence of staples. This is going to get a lot worse.

    And so will the rage.

    I think we’ve moved beyond living in interesting times. Perilous is more like it.

  3. DMC

    The two things with infinite shelf life are honey and Spam. Otherwise, beans and rice will keep at least a couple of years. Some canned vegetables dried fruit should fill in the gaps. Canned proteins of your choice. Really, how county people got by before you could get to the store more than once a month, if you think about it.

  4. Ché Pasa

    Really, how county people got by before you could get to the store more than once a month, if you think about it.

    Yeah, well, here’s the thing: back in the pioneer days, which I think was being referred to, lots of people, no matter where they were, did not get by.

    This is the reality that I suspect is going to start slamming into more and more people who think they’re getting by well enough now. Life on the frontier was hard and many of those who chose or were forced onto the frontier weren’t prepared at all.

    To say living was perilous is an understatement. Many did not survive. But how much did it matter when there were so many yet to come on the slave ships and fever ships from Africa, Asia and Europe? It didn’t matter much at all, did it?

    It wasn’t just for folks on the frontier. Poor people — which was most people — in the cities had an even rougher time, and urban dwellers, many of whom are already on the margins, are likely to go through something similar again. And soon.

    Survival was often a matter of dumb luck, not always of wisdom, planning and preparation. I’ve read so many documents left by people who planned down to the last nail and bean, who had stored up a year’s worth of supplies, who had saved a chest full of money, who had everything laid out for success… and they failed. Had to abandon their efforts, or didn’t survive long enough to see those efforts pay off.

    These are largely buried stories, ones that don’t get told over and over again, don’t even see the light of day unless you’re looking hard for them. But they are real stories, and there are far more of them than our mythologies let on.

    I was talking with a friend yesterday about mass murder in Sacramento (where he lives) and the catastrophe in Ukraine, and he was all about rationalizing it. Well, you know, gangs have shootouts, and that’s what he thought was happening on the streets of downtown Sacramento. Ukraine will be left little more than a pile of rubble and dead bodies. That’s what happens when war comes and goes. That’s how he makes sense of so many things that don’t make sense. Someone will come out alive, and we’ll go on.

    Yep. Someone. And as Ms. Ché says, it’s usually the worst of us, the most Mad Max among us, who survive collapse and catastrophe, and isn’t it a shame.

    Yes, stock up by all means and grow your own if you can. And as things get rougher, it’ll get a lot tougher.

  5. Carborundum

    A bigger factor than increases in the cost of commodities / primary inputs will be post-pandemic profit-taking.

    Yes, input costs have risen – no, they haven’t risen nearly as much as costs to the consumer.

  6. Feral Finster

    You will be ordered to sacrifice for Empire. Frankly, I have no sympathy for Americans or Canadians or Europeans in this mess, but I do feel for the Global South who will be ordered to Do Their Bit for the American Empire, whether they like it or not.

  7. Astrid

    Canned tuna is a pretty good option for protein. Shelf stable for a couple years, less gross than SPAM. I buy the oil packed cans from Costco when they go on sale. Jerky making is a nice diversion if you can find cheap meat and you can freeze the results. I freeze blocks of cheese, very dense form of protein.

    I highly recommend stocking up on seasonings and sauces. If the future is going to be a lot more beans and rice, make sure you have what it takes to make them tasty. Chocolate. Imported cheese. Salumi.
    Anything that you’ll miss if they blink out of your life. If you have the money and space, pick up a chest freezer or basic fridge and stock up now. The food storage space and redundancy is helpful.

    For something completely frivolous, our newish short throw 4K projector had made us quite happy. Consumer electronics usually goes down in price and quickly, but we’ve gotten so much used or of it inn the last 5 months (for movies, sports, and YouTube concert clips) that it’s been a really cheery object in our life.

  8. different clue


    About home-breeding/selecting of poppies . . . . when you speak of potential dual-use, do you mean the flowers for beauty and the latex for . . . .

    If those are the two uses, then there is a third use to consider – or not – and that is the edible seeds. After all, the various traditional “breadseed” poppies of East and Central Europe are Papaver somniferum. So , selecting for best seeds? most seeds? tastiest seeds? Along with everything else.

  9. bruce wilder

    The wheat flows across the Black Sea to Turkiye, world’s largest exporter of wheat flour.

  10. NR


    Be careful eating too much canned tuna, it has mercury content (chunk light is better than chunk white in this regard, but mercury is still an issue even there). I think one 6 oz can per week is considered safe, anything more is risky.

  11. Some guy passing by

    Know your food sources and local growers.
    Know how to grow food yourself and have resources in place to do so.
    Know how to prepare , cook, preserve and live simply.
    Have reliable connections in place.
    Have secure habitation.
    Lacking that kiss your ass goodbye.

  12. Lex

    @different clue,
    Indeed. And it is such a prolific seed producer that there is plenty for that use as well.

    If you intend to garden and can, make sure you stock up on lids as soon as possible. Last year there was a significant shortage of them.

  13. different clue

    Considering the “potlatch tradition” , leadership-worthy people at the local level might want to overstock overup on things like lids to be able to give some away to people who didn’t get any when they could have, and sure wish they had some “now”.

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