The Economics of Food Price Volatility

That’s the title of a forthcoming NBER book edited by Jean-Paul Chavas, David Hummels, and Brian Wright which summarizes the papers presented at a conference held last summer in Seattle.

The conference featured papers on many aspects of the twin problems of high and volatile food prices, and it convened most of the world’s expert on food prices in one room for a few days.

I was a discussant on Kym Anderson, Maros Ivanic, and Will Martin’s paper looking at the impacts of export bans on poverty. Recall that when food prices spike, it is not uncommon for developing countries to adopt a host of protectionist measures designed to insulate themselves from high food prices. Though those policies exacerbate the problem of high international food prices, they presumably help domestically.

The Anderson et al. paper can be found here. My discussion, in which I also briefly sketch the outline of a formal theoretical model of the political economy of agricultural protection, can be found here. The link above contains links to every chapter in the book, which is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press.

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