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Food Price Spikes, Price Insulation and Poverty

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  • Kym Anderson
  • Maros Ivanic
  • Will Martin

Abstract

This paper first considers the impact on world food prices of the changes in restrictions on trade in staple foods during the 2008 world food price crisis. Those changes—reductions in import protection or increases in export restraints—were meant to partially insulate domestic markets from the spike in international prices. The authors find that this insulation added substantially to the spike in international prices for rice, wheat, maize, and oilseeds. As a result, although domestic prices rose less than they would have without insulation in some developing countries, in many other countries they rose more than they would have in the absence of such insulation. The paper’s second purpose it to estimate the combined impact of such insulating behavior on poverty in various developing countries and globally. The analysis finds that the actual poverty-reducing impact of insulation is much less than its apparent impact, and that its net effect was to increase global poverty in 2008 by 8 million people, although this increase was not significantly different from zero. The paper examines the relative efficiency and equity of trade restrictions and domestic policies, such as conditional cash transfers, than are designed to provide social protection for the poor when international food prices spike. It also examines the potential consequences of multilateral agreements to limit changes in restrictions on trade during such times.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19530.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Publication status: Forthcoming: Food Price Spikes, Price Insulation and Poverty , Kym Anderson, Maros Ivanic, Will Martin. in The Economics of Food Price Volatility , Chavas, Hummels, and Wright. 2014
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19530

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  1. Alderman, Harold & Yemtsov, Ruslan, 2013. "How can safety nets contribute to economic growth ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6437, The World Bank.
  2. Christophe Gouel & Sébastien Jean, 2012. "Optimal Food Price Stabilization in a Small Open Developing Country," Working Papers 2012-01, CEPII research center.
  3. Christine D. Lasco & Robert J. Myers & Richard H. Bernsten, 2008. "Dynamics of rice prices and agricultural wages in the Philippines," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 38(3), pages 339-348, 05.
  4. Will Martin & Kym Anderson, 2012. "Export Restrictions and Price Insulation During Commodity Price Booms," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 94(2), pages 422-427.
  5. Kym Anderson, 2012. "Agricultural Trade Distortions During the Global Financial Crisis," Departmental Working Papers 2012-05, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  6. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua & Sangraula, Prem, 2007. "New evidence on the urbanization of global poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4199, The World Bank.
  7. Pursell, Garry & Gulati, Ashok & Gupta, Kanupriya, 2007. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in India," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 48483, World Bank.
  8. Ivanic, Maros & Martin, Will & Zaman, Hassan, 2012. "Estimating the Short-Run Poverty Impacts of the 2010–11 Surge in Food Prices," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(11), pages 2302-2317.
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Cited by:
  1. Donald MacLaren, 2014. "The Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) and Tariffs: Price Behaviour with Imperfectly Competitive Market Intermediaries," CESifo Working Paper Series 4585, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Brian Wright, 2014. "Global Biofuels: Key to the Puzzle of Grain Market Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 73-98, Winter.
  3. Ivanic, Maros & Martin, Will, 2014. "Implications of domestic price insulation for global food price behavior," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 272-288.

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