Can local food be as efficient as industrial agriculture?

Can local food be as efficient as industrial agriculture?

Here’s  l;ink to a discussion of this interesting topic.

Probably some foods are more efficiently produced locally and some others via industrial farming.

The way to determine which is which is to remove all agricultural subsidies.  Then the prices in the stores would reflect the true costs  of growing each item and each of us could make our decisions according to our own values.

By the way last summer I purchased local; strawberries which cost more than the imported variety because the local ones tasted better.

Seven billion are a lot of people to feed and it could well be that industrial agriculture is necessary.  And should it fail it would also mean a lot of suffering..

Do financial crises really cause a drop in output?

The following was posted inThe Economist comments  to an artice “Lessons of the 1930s” in the December 10, 2011 edition.

“As in 1931 and 2008, a grave financial crisis may cause a large drop in output.”

This short sentence in this article reflects what appears to be conventional economic wisdom and  needs to be challenged because it could be that a drop in output causes financial crises.  Or it could be that one feeds the other.

During the 1930s America experienced its most severe ever drought and there may have been other problems in the physical side of the economy. Most of us are too old to remember.

Today there are people who claim we are using resources at a rate that is 150 percent of the sustainable rate.  If that is so, or even partly so, it is not surprising we are in an economic crisis.

If it is true that current problems are because our use of resources is unsustainable, then quite different policies are required.

Temporary money for a bailout

Here’s n interesting little story about money.

A tourist in a small depressed Irish town leaves a hundred pound note with the hotel keeper while he inspects the rooms.

While the inspection is happening the money is used to by a series of business people to pay off their debts to each other and lands back with the innkeeper just as the tourist returns to collect his money and leave..

The story ends with these lines:

“No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking forward to a brighter future.

And that, gentle reader, is how a successful bailout works.”

This town was using debt as money which is the case in our own economies.  However, this “bailout” was only able to work because there was no interest charged on any of the debts.  It could be that we would be much better off if we were to create our own money supply without interest charges to make things more complicated.

The people of this town would probably be better off if they were to use playing cards or candies as money or better still adopt a LETS (local exchange trading system).

The biggest news story of the year

The Huffington Post asks what is the biggest Canadian news story of the year.  Here is my answer:

The biggest news story of the year is the economic crisis which is being felt around the world.  It has been reflected in and overwhelming number of headlines.

The probable cause of the crisis is a depletion of resources.  Some people figure we are using resources at a rate that is 150 percent of a sustainable level.  This is showing up as a financial crisis.

A further problem is that as a financial crisis it threatens to wipe out a major chunk of the money supply as banks create money when they make loans.  This will further restrict our ability to exchange goods and services.

A lot of economists want to deal with the crisis with government stimulus spending.  However, if resource depletion is the root problem, then increasing our economic activity will make the crisis even worse.  The answer is to try to even out the pain of austerity.

(The author of this comment has a web log on economics at

Investing during deflation or inflation

This was posted as a comment on an article in The Economist of December 3, 2011 on hedge funds.


For an investor I think this is a key sentence in this article:

“Some fund managers privately confess that they wish they could move entirely into cash and sit out the market turmoil.”

During a time of deflation the best investment strategy is to hold assets in cash.

However, with the kind of uncertainty we are currently experiencing one should not rule out the possibility of a sharp switch to inflation.

Probably the best investment at this time would be a market garden – then regardless of what happens one should be able to eat.  And check the quality of the soil.  Some people fear a lot agricultural land has been degraded beyond repair.

(The author of this comment has a web log on economics at

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