I had heard analysis recently suggesting that the current trends in fuel prices (oil steaming onward to $200 a barrel) and food prices (wheat, rice, etc.) are due more to speculators than anything else. However, a recent survey of economists done by the Wall Street Journal showed that the majority of them believe that the cause is more substantial and fundamental: “constrained supply and growing demand.”
That would mean that the problems are both less likely to go away any time soon and more likely to worsen.
That’s not to say that some of the problem isn’t caused by an investment bubble, but it does seem that the effect of speculators is not the biggest element.
Of course, you might feel, like many do, that in any group of economists a majority of them drink their bath water, but I would not be so quick to dismiss their opinion. Scarcity and famine is definitely prophesied before Christ’s return (Matthew 24:7, Revelation 6:5-6, Ezekiel 5:12, et al.), and the factors leading up to that state may involve a mixture of elements. It’s hard to imagine that environmental factors and greed will not be among those elements.
Whether this is the beginning of a continuous trend or only a temporary taste of things to come isn’t clear yet. But regardless, the solution cannot simply be “policy oriented” in its nature — it will have to involve national repentance (cf. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14).