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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.


The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

U.S. Poultry and Swine Consortium Makes Massive Grain Purchase

A consortium of poultry and swine producers have ordered between 100,000 and 200,000 tonnes of feed-quality wheat from Canadian suppliers. This purchase is an excellent example of an organization that can invest in food because it can take delivery of the goods, and has a good reason for both obtaining and storing them.

As I have recently pointed out on this site, if the hammer falls on speculators, the people primarily at risk will be those bidding up the price of food or energy supplies who can in no way receive the goods they temporarily own, but who are merely placing bets in the hope of improving their own bottom line, to no one's benefit but their own.

On the other hand, importing wheat -- feed-grade or otherwise -- is the kind of action the U.S. government is only apt to applaud.

Incidentally, if your business relies on large purchases of food or fuel, and you have the cash, you should already be weighing very seriously the risks posed by this Friday's "Day of Rage" that some activists are attempting to launch in Saudi Arabia. Given the demonstrations and revolutions across the Middle East, even if the Saudis treat this event with a yawn, the larger dynamics overshadowing Mideast oil production appear very risky at the present time.

Combine this situation with the reported drop of 14% in global oil production (or at least of the 90% of production being discussed in the JODI figures by APEC, the IEA, the UN and OPEC) and, well... you weigh your entire operation very carefully. I personally would be considering how to operate my business in a world with significantly less oil in the very near future -- perhaps dramatically less in your country.

The Downside of Gold

While I usually do not get into investment issues on this blog, I decided to comment earlier today about some potential downsides to continued investment in gold, given the extraordinary run up in its price over the last few years as investors sought any vehicle that offered relative safety. Bear in mind, nothing on this blog is intended as investment advice, and the issues I point out below do not have to happen. But they could, and in the interest of weighing future possibilities, I am pointing out a few potentials snares and pitfalls that may theoretically await someone who invests the bulk of their funds in precious metals, particularly gold.

First, one of the biggest problems for gold are the ongoing discussions between the Indian and Iranian governments about securing India's fuel deliveries. Earlier this year, India was talking about a payment plan that included buying fuel with gold. Lately, other means of making payments are now considered to be bypassing international sanctions and hence unacceptable to India's central bank, which presumably means gold is back on the table as an option... perhaps even as the primary option.

Think about that. Set aside the immediate circumstances involved -- Iran's inability to accept normal payments for her fuel. If countries have gold reserves that have greatly increased in value, but are otherwise facing serious financial problems and a critical shortfall in domestic supplies of energy and food... then they are apt to start selling gold. Once entire national gold reserves start showing up on the market, either gradually or all at once, it will have an impact on availability and price.

Second, what do you think happens if several Middle Eastern countries fall and their mansions and palaces are looted by an angry populace? A lot of gold suddenly ends up in the hands of people who need things other than gold -- such as food, for example -- and that could abruptly add a huge amount of gold to the Mideast market, and ultimately the world's. Especially in places, like Libya, where the wealthiest lacked either the time or the inclination to flee. And this will be happening just as oil and food become increasingly precious.

Third, there are countries out there, like China, who hold a lot of gold, but who are keenly aware of the value of other resources. I suspect China, in particular, sees gold as a hedge against other financial issues, but ultimately as a tradable commodity that could one day be exchanged for things that it really needs. They've had a chance to see that gold increase substantially in value, but have no reason to hold onto it if it's value may start declining or even crashing. They may look at a run up in oil prices, and sales by India or in the Mideast market, and choose to start getting out as well.

Fourth, quite a few individuals in the world, including Chinese and American citizens, have bought and held gold. Quite a few of those same people are facing increasing difficulty in getting the bare necessities in life, and they will probably find things even more difficult should Middle Eastern oil exports -- and the global oil trade in general -- collapse. In which case, they may also sell.

Finally, gold has had a huge run up in price, and now there are quite a few individuals and organizations with so much invested in it that they can not afford to lose their principle. And unlike, say, oil, there is no substantial base demand for gold that has to be met in a heavily damaged economy. All of which means... If investors start to dump gold, they could all get out in a rush, leaving quite a few stalwarts stuck holding depreciated, if not near-worthless, metal.