Food prices dropped significantly in July, marking the fifth consecutive monthly decline since hitting record highs earlier in the year in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported on Friday.
The UN agency has published its latest eagerly awaited Food Price Index, the barometer that tracks monthly changes in the international prices of five food commodities: cereals, vegetable oils, dairy products, meat, and sugar.
The index averaged 140.9 points in July, or 8.6 points down from June. The decline was led by double-digit percentage drops in the cost of vegetable oils but also cereals, with the recent UN-brokered deal on Ukrainian grain exports a contributing factor.
Welcome but wary
“However, many uncertainties remain, including high fertilizer prices that can impact future production prospects and farmers’ livelihoods, a bleak global economic outlook, and currency movements, all of which pose serious strains for global food security.”
In July, FAO’s Vegetable Price Index decreased by 19.2 per cent compared to June, marking a 10-month low. International quotations for all oil types fell, the agency said, with palm oil prices declining due to prospects of ample export availability out of Indonesia, for example.
Additionally, sunflower oil prices also dropped markedly amid subdued global import demand, despite continued logistical uncertainties in the Black Sea region. Vegetable oil values were also pushed down by lower crude oil prices.
Black Sea export deal
The Cereal Price Index also reflected an 11.5 per cent decline last month, though remaining 16.6 per cent above July 2021. Prices of all cereals in the index declined, led by wheat.
World wheat prices dropped by as much as 14.5 per cent, FAO said, partly in reaction to the Russia-Ukraine deal on grain exports from key Black Sea ports, and also because of seasonal availability from ongoing harvests in the northern hemisphere.
July also saw an 11.2 per cent decline in coarse grain prices. Maize was down 10.7 per cent, again due in part to the Black Sea Grain Initiative and increased seasonal availabilities in Argentina and Brazil. Additionally, international rice prices also declined for the first time this year.
The Sugar Price Index fell by nearly four per cent, amid concerns over demand prospects due to expectations of a further global economic slowdown, a weakening in Brazil’s currency, the real, and lower ethanol prices resulting in greater sugar production there than previously expected.
The downward trend was also influenced by indications of greater exports and favourable production prospects in India. Meanwhile, the hot and dry weather in European Union countries also sparked concerns over sugar beet yields and prevented sharper declines.
FAO further reported that the Dairy Price Index decreased 2.5 per cent “amid lacklustre trading activity”, yet still averaged 25.4 per cent above last July.
While the prices of milk powders and butter declined, cheese prices remained stable, boosted by demand in European tourism destinations.
Mixed picture for meat
Meat prices also continued the downward trend, dropping by half a per cent from June due to weakening import demands. However, poultry prices reached an all-time high, boosted by firm import demand and tight supplies due to Avian influenza outbreaks in the northern hemisphere.
The FAO Meat Price Index was also down in July, by 0.5 percent from June, due to weakening import demand for bovine, ovine and pig meats. By contrast, international poultry meat prices reached an all-time high, underpinned by firm global import demand and tight supplies due to Avian influenza outbreaks in the northern hemisphere.
Blame the BRICS for the de-dollarization
“De-dollarizing” the world economy could have dangerous consequences for the United States. The BRICS alliance — originally comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — took a major step toward flexing its communal currency muscle at its recent summit in South Africa, writes ‘The New York Post’.
Six new members joined the organization — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates — in an effort to reduce the dollar’s decades-long dominance and end its use as the preferred payment for the one commodity that still dominates global trade: oil.
The dollar’s role as the world’s key reserve currency is the foundation for America’s global leadership.
Most crucially, at a time of unprecedented global conflict, diminishing the dollar’s importance would allow rogue nations such as Iran and Russia to become immune to sanctions in response to geopolitical bad behavior.
Lower demand for the currency might make exports cheaper but it will also reduce the dollar’s purchasing power and undermine confidence in its stability.
As the BRICS summit made clear, the block’s leverage in the oil market has never been greater.
This has given them unprecedented power to finally replace the dollar on the global energy markets with their own domestic currencies.
Take a close look at the selective approach the alliance used to expand its membership.
While the bloc did not provide details about specific admissions criteria, the selection is clearly energy-centric.
Only six out of more than 40 applicant nations were accepted this year — with sizable economies such as Turkey and Indonesia conspicuously left out.
The anti-Western alliance now has six of the world’s top oil producers – Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Brazil, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates.
It’s also home to two of the world’s largest oil importers – China and India.
Although 90% of oil trades are currently conducted in dollars, an increasing number are being handled in Chinese yuan and Russian rubles.
India, for instance, has started paying for Russian oil imports in yuan, and China also began using its yuan to pay Russia for most of its energy imports in the first quarter of this year, according to Reuters.
Saudi Arabia may be new to BRICS, but it’s already colluding with Russia to reduce petroleum production, which has resulted in oil reaching a 10-month high this month.
What’s notable about the BRICS newcomers is that many are authoritarian regimes who are intimately familiar with the power of US sanctions.
Iran, of course, has contended with them for years.
The Saudis — while a crucial US ally — are keen to avoid the “consequences” called for by Biden in October after OPEC+ announced those large production cuts.
Back in 2020, Biden also threatened to make the kingdom a “pariah” over the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
By shutting Washington out of trade and diplomacy, BRICS membership allows rogue nations to upend our ability to “weaponize” the dollar as a tool to punish ‘bad guys’.
The US has employed sanctions for decades, in lieu of military intervention against authoritarian regimes such as Iran, North Korea, and now Russia.
The White House, for instance, seized $300 billion in Russian assets following its invasion of Ukraine.
Biden also removed Russia from SWIFT, the international money transfer system, sending shock-waves to non-western nations at risk of White House ire.
But sanctions, no matter how robust, have proven ineffective. China and India — both of which have yet to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine — have kept Moscow’s energy revenue flowing, helping to finance Putin’s war machine and highlighting the power of BRICS cooperation.
The BRICS already have a significant presence across the global economy.
With a collective population of more than 3 billion and 31.5% of the world’s GDP, they’re a formidable challenger to the G7 block of the world’s top economic superpowers.
The G-7’s share of global GDP, for instance, is currently at 30%, and projected to fall to 27.95 percent in 2027, according to Statista research.
The dominance of the dollar has driven many non-Western nations to join forces and develop a counterweight to Western economic hegemony.
Common statistics homework problems and how to solve them
Statistics is a branch of mathematics that deals with collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data. Statistics homework problems can be challenging for many students, especially if they lack the necessary skills and concepts. That is the reason why many choose to get statistics help for students. It seems like a more effective way of dealing with an issue at hand. However, there are some common types of statistics problems that can be solved using some basic steps and strategies.
Example 1: Finding the mean and median of a data set
The mean and median are two measures of central tendency that describe the average or typical value of a data set. The mean is calculated by adding up all the values in the data set and dividing by the number of values. The median is the middle value of the data set when it is arranged in ascending or descending order. If there is an even number of values, the median is the average of the middle two values.
To find the mean and median of a data set, we can follow these steps:
- Step 1: Arrange the data in ascending or descending order (optional for finding the mean, but necessary for finding the median).
- Step 2: Add up all the values in the data set and divide by the number of values to get the mean.
- Step 3: Find the middle position of the data set by dividing the number of values by 2. If the result is a whole number, then that position is the median. If the result is a fraction, then round it up to the next whole number and find the value at that position. This is the median if there is an odd number of values. If there is an even number of values, then find the average of the values at that position and the previous position. This is the median.
For example, suppose we have the following data set:
139 143 128 138 149 131 143 133
To find the mean and median, we can do the following:
- Step 1: Arrange the data in ascending order:
128 131 133 138 139 143 143 149
- Step 2: Add up all the values and divide by 8 (the number of values) to get the mean:
(128 + 131 + 133 + 138 + 139 + 143 + 143 + 149) / 8 = 138.25
The mean is 138.25.
- Step 3: Find the middle position of the data set by dividing 8 by 2:
8 / 2 = 4
Since this is a whole number, we look at the value at position 4 and position 5 (the next position) in the ordered data set:
128 131 133 (138) (139) 143 143 149
The values at these positions are 138 and 139. To find the median, we take their average:
(138 + 139) / 2 = 138.5
The median is 138.5.
Example 2: Constructing a frequency table
A frequency table is a table that shows how often each value or category occurs in a data set. It can be used to summarize and display categorical or numerical data. To construct a frequency table, we can follow these steps:
- Step 1: Identify the possible values or categories in the data set.
- Step 2: Count how many times each value or category occurs in the data set.
- Step 3: Record the counts in a table with two columns: one for the values or categories and one for their frequencies.
For example, suppose we have the following data on the GPA of six students:
3.0 3.3 3.1 3.0 3.1 3.1
To construct a frequency table, we can do the following:
- Step 1: Identify the possible values in the data set. In this case, they are 3.0, 3.1, and 3.3.
- Step 2: Count how many times each value occurs in the data set. In this case, 3.0 occurs twice, 3.1 occurs three times, and 3.3 occurs once.
- Step 3: Record the counts in a table with two columns:
This is our frequency table.
These are just two examples of common statistics homework problems and how to solve them. There are many other types of problems that require different methods and techniques, such as finding standard deviation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, correlation, regression, and more. To learn more about these topics and how to solve them, you can check out some online resources such as Mathway, The Princeton Review, or Math-Drills. You can also consult your textbook, your instructor, or your classmates for more help and practice. Statistics can be a challenging but rewarding subject, and with some effort and guidance, you can master it.
When you are overwhelmed with your assignment and don’t feel like working on it, qualified statistic help for students is the best solution to your problem. However, you should find out a bit about the service before you place your order on its website. To specify, you need to know how long its team has been providing statistics assistance for students. What is more, you should check out what their pricing policy is like, as well as what other customers think about the agency in question.
Apart from that, don’t forget about the guarantees which a reliable service should provide. The more guarantees a service offers, the more secure you will feel placing your order on the website. All in all, finding a service that provides competent statistics assistance will not take you long as there are many companies you can trust. Yet, you need to pay special attention to a number of factors to choose the best service on the market. A company that provides competent assistance with statistics assignments is right on hand. You just need to learn more about what it has to offer.
U.S. companies are barreling towards a $1.8 trillion corporate debt
US firms are barreling towards a giant wall of corporate debt that’s about to mature over the next few years, Goldman Sachs strategists said in a note.
There’s $1.8 trillion of corporate debt maturing over the next two years, Goldman Sachs estimated. Firms could be slammed with higher debt servicing costs as interest rates stay elevated. That could eat into corporate revenue and weigh on the US job market.
The investment bank estimated that $790 billion of corporate debt was set to mature in 2024, followed by $1.07 trillion of debt maturing in 2025. That amounts to $1.8 trillion of debt reaching maturity within the next two years, in addition to another $230 billion that will reach maturity by the end of this year, Goldman strategists said.
The wave of debt that will need to be refinanced could spell trouble for companies, as interest rates have been raised aggressively by the Fed over the last year. The Fed funds rate is now targeted between 5.25%-5.5%, the highest range since 2001.
For every extra dollar spent to service their debt, firms will likely pull back on capital expenditures spending by 10 cents and labor spending by 20 cents, the strategists estimated, a reduction that could weigh down the job market by 5,000 payrolls a month in 2024 and 10,000 payrolls a month in 2025.
Experts have warned of trouble for US corporations as credit conditions tighten. Already, the tally of corporate debt defaults in 2023 has surpassed the total number of defaults recorded last year. As much of $1 trillion in corporate debt could be at risk for default if the US faces a full-blown recession, Bank of America warned, though strategists at the bank no longer see a downturn as likely in 2023.
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