TULIPS, FLEUR DE LIS AND THE ECONOMIC BUBBLES

Tulip mania or tulipomania was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed. At the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.. The term “tulip mania” is now often used metaphorically to refer to any large economic bubble (when asset prices deviate from intrinsic values).

Currently, the market pressure on food commodities and world tension between supply and demand for cereals will leap steeply the price of commodities in Spain. Bad news for the consumer price index. In fact, food has gone up by 5, 6% this year, two points above the CPI in February.

From June 2010, raw materials have soared over 100% in some cases . The unstoppable increase of oil, another basic element of business costs for producers as well as processors and distributors, also is against the consumer.

Agriculture and livestock producers and manufacturers prepare an steady rise in prices. During 2010, food prices rose significantly and, as happened in 2007 and during the first half of 2008 (the last great food crisis).

Raw materials have sharply gone up from June 2010 to now .Only in the past year, wheat prices rose by 91% and corn was increased by 57%, soybeans by 33% and sugar by 32%. Cereals are the main protein component of livestock feedstuffs for livestock. And these feeds represent 70% of all costs of the food business. Corn, soybeans, rice, sugar, coffee, fruit or cocoa have maintained a steady and continuous increase , in some cases, up to 20% in comparison to last December.

Some analysts argue that these record peaks correspond to the tension between supply and demand, caused by natural disasters (droughts and floods), by the incorporation of large areas of population such as China or India, or to a lesser extent by biofuel production.

However, the main agricultural and livestock producers point directly to the market speculation as the main reason for this problem. In mid 2008, in the midst of food crisis, international funds invested more than 164,000 million dollars in corn and wheat, the most relevant cereals. Last February, the net investment in these two raw materials was over 186,000 million dollars.

This is due to hedge funds and market speculation as the housing bubble have caused that real estate investment trusts abandoned this segment of the market and currently, they focus on raw materials. According to the Spanish association of Cereals and Oil Distributors (ACCOE), commodity funds that immobilized much of the cereal in the world, retain, create news, even untrue, saying there is cereal shortage and when the market goes up what they want, release the lot, sell and keep the money.

In the Modern Age the fleur-de-lis was a heat seal which was used by the executioners of France to mark the criminals and traitors with a hot iron punishment and infamous stigma that branded them as undesirable for ever.

If this new commodities bubble is not controlled, the international producers and marketer of food and commodities will be marked as two thirds of the world’s population have not got enough money to eat, and a new increase in prices could leave them on the edge.