The volatility of food prices has always concerned national governments, especially those of open developing economies, as it undermines their perceived national food security. A common policy approach has been to partially insulate their domestic market from international food price fluctuations by varying restrictions on their imports or exports. Unfortunately, such domestic stabilization measures amplify international price fluctuations. This article explains conceptually, and illustrates empirically, how insulation measures do little to advance national food security and collectively imperil global food security. Many countries also intervene to alter the trend level of domestic farm product prices, again most commonly with the use of trade restrictions. The latter policies have the unintended consequence of thinning international food markets, adding to their volatility. The article concludes by pointing to alternative ways for governments to boost food security for vulnerable households; such alternatives have become far more feasible in recent times, thanks to the information and communication technology revolution.
|Annual Review of Resource Economics
|Published - 2014