With the U.S. financial system in unprecedented turmoil and the economy moving toward recession, ordinary Americans wake up to daily panic about their mortgages and mutual funds. But while we fret for our financial security, the volatility in global asset prices and commodities resulting from the U.S. financial crisis will have global reach, threatening the very survival of Africa’s poorest villagers.
Take oil prices, for example. With the price of oil back down below $100 per barrel, there’s been a collective sigh of relief from America’s drivers and car companies (though the oil sheiks in Riyadh and Moscow might not be celebrating). But it’s not just oil that’s down: After a six-year rally, commodity prices across the board have headed south over the past few months, driven down in part by the risk of a recession in the U.S. And while this means your morning cup of coffee or slice of toast might cost a few cents less someday, it’s troubling news for many farmers in poor countries who live on the edge of survival even in good years.