To mark the imminent launch of Panzner Insights, a member-only website focused on markets, economics, and geopolitics, I thought it only fitting to serve up a podcast on a theme that will be increasingly important for investors and businesses alike in the months ahead (click to play, right mouse-click and save to download).
Those who question whether the world is set to become more unstable than it is now might want to consider this chart I recently created --
and this 2011 Technology Review article, The Cause Of Riots And The Price of Food":
If we don't reverse the current trend in food prices, we've got until August 2013 before social unrest sweeps the planet, say complexity theorists
What causes riots? That's not a question you would expect to have a simple answer.
But today, Marco Lagi and buddies at the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, say they've found a single factor that seems to trigger riots around the world.
This single factor is the price of food. Lagi and co say that when it rises above a certain threshold, social unrest sweeps the planet.
The evidence comes from two sources. The first is data gathered by the United Nations that plots the price of food against time, the so-called food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. The second is the date of riots around the world, whatever their cause. Both these sources are plotted on the same graph above.
This clearly seems to show that when the food price index rises above a certain threshold, the result is trouble around the world.