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Food Price Spikes, Price Insulation, and Poverty

In: The Economics of Food Price Volatility

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  • Kym Anderson
  • Maros Ivanic
  • William J. Martin

Abstract

This paper has two purposes. It 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. We find that this insulation added substantially to the spike in international prices for rice, wheat, maize and oilseeds. As a result, while domestic prices rose less than they would have without insulation in some developing countries, in many other countries they rose more than 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. We find 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, although this increase was not significantly different from zero. Since there are domestic policy instruments such as conditional cash transfers that could now provide social protection for the poor far more efficiently and equitably than variations in border restrictions, we suggest it is time to seek a multilateral agreement to desist from changing restrictions on trade when international food prices spike.
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Suggested Citation

  • Kym Anderson & Maros Ivanic & William J. Martin, 2014. "Food Price Spikes, Price Insulation, and Poverty," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Food Price Volatility, pages 311-339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12818
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christophe Gouel & Sébastien Jean, 2015. "Optimal Food Price Stabilization in a Small Open Developing Country," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(1), pages 72-101.
    2. 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.
    3. Maros Ivanic & Will Martin, 2008. "Implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low‐income countries1," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 405-416, November.
    4. Martin Ravallion & Shaohua Chen & Prem Sangraula, 2007. "New Evidence on the Urbanization of Global Poverty," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(4), pages 667-701, December.
    5. 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, May.
    6. Kym Anderson & Signe Nelgen, 2012. "Agricultural trade distortions during the global financial crisis," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(2), pages 235-260, SUMMER.
    7. Harold Alderman & Ruslan Yemtsov, 2014. "How Can Safety Nets Contribute to Economic Growth?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 1-20.
    8. Kym Anderson & Will Martin, 2009. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Asia," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2611, July.
    9. 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.
    10. Ivanic, Maros & Martin, Will, 2008. "Implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low-income countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4594, The World Bank.
    11. Thomas W. Hertel & L. Alan Winters, 2006. "Poverty and the WTO : Impacts of the Doha Development Agenda," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7411, July.
    12. Pursell, Garry & Gulati, Ashok & Gupta, Kanupriya, 2007. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in India," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper Series 48483, World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Magrini, Emiliano & Montalbano, Pierluigi & Nenci, Silvia & Salvatici, Luca, 2014. "Agricultural trade distortions during recent international price spikes: what implications for food security?," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182726, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Elleby, Christian, 2014. "Poverty and Price Transmission," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182722, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. 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.
    4. Donald MacLaren, 2016. "The Contingent Tariff of the Special Safeguard Mechanism: What Happens When Markets are Imperfectly Competitive?," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 62-83, February.
    5. Brown, Molly E. & Carr, Edward R. & Grace, Kathryn L. & Wiebe, Keith & Funk, Christopher C. & Attavanich, Witsanu & Backlund, Peter & Buja, Lawrence, 2017. "Do markets and trade help or hurt the global food system adapt to climate change?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 154-159.
    6. Aragie, Emerta & Pauw, Karl & Pernechele, Valentina, 2018. "Achieving food security and industrial development in Malawi: Are export restrictions the solution?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 1-15.
    7. 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.
    8. Isabelle Cadoret & Marie-Hélène Hubert & Véronique Thelen, 2017. "The Diabolical Spiral: Food Prices and Civil Conflicts," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 2017-17, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
    9. Bekkers, Eddy & Brockmeier, Martina & Francois, Joseph & Yang, Fan, 2017. "Local Food Prices and International Price Transmission," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 216-230.
    10. Dietrich, Stephan & Giuffrida, Valerio & Martorano, Bruno & Schmerzeck, Georg, 2021. "COVID-19 policy responses, mobility, and food prices: Evidence from local markets in 47 low to middle income countries," MERIT Working Papers 2021-008, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    11. McBride, Linden, 2014. "Exploring food commodity price risk preferences among Tanzanian households," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 172437, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    12. Kym Anderson, 2018. "From taxing to subsidizing farmers in China post-1978," China Agricultural Economic Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 10(1), pages 36-47, February.
    13. Brockhaus, Jan & Kalkuhl, Matthias & Kozicka, Marta, 2016. "What Drives India’s Rice Stocks? Empirical Evidence," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235659, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    14. Brown, Molly & Antle, John & Backlund, Peter & Carr, Edward & Easterling, Bill & Walsh, Margaret & Ammann, Caspar & Attavanich, Witsanu & Barrett, Chris & Bellemare, Marc & Dancheck, Violet & Funk, Ch, 2015. "Climate Change, Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System," MPRA Paper 105772, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Pieters, Hannah & Swinnen, Johan, 2016. "Trading-off volatility and distortions? Food policy during price spikes," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 27-39.
    16. Yamauchi, Futoshi & Larson, Donald F., 2019. "Long-term impacts of an unanticipated spike in food prices on child growth in Indonesia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 330-343.
    17. Vincent H. Smith & Joseph W. Glauber, 2020. "Trade, policy, and food security," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 51(1), pages 159-171, January.
    18. Donald MacLaren, 2014. "The Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) and Tariffs: Price Behaviour with Imperfectly Competitive Market Intermediaries," CESifo Working Paper Series 4585, CESifo.
    19. Huw Lloyd-Ellis & Ardyn Nordstrom, 2021. "Trade, poverty and food security: A survey of recent research and its implications for East Africa," Working Paper 1460, Economics Department, Queen's University.
    20. Basu Kaushik, 2014. "The Art of Currency Manipulation: How Some Profiteer by Deliberately Distorting Exchange Rates," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 199-211, February.
    21. Grundy, Michael J. & Bryan, Brett A. & Nolan, Martin & Battaglia, Michael & Hatfield-Dodds, Steve & Connor, Jeffery D. & Keating, Brian A., 2016. "Scenarios for Australian agricultural production and land use to 2050," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 70-83.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • Q02 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Commodity Market
    • Q17 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agriculture in International Trade
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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