Impacts and Influence

Popping the Rice Price Bubble

rice prices in a market

In mid-2008, rice prices had spiked fourfold since the start of the year, and poor people in many parts of the world were facing extreme hardship. Yet Japan held 1.5 million tons of imported rice that it did not want but could not re-export without US permission. Drawing on research by Peter Timmer and market intelligence from Tom Slayton, CGD used blogs, media, congressional testimony, and other tools to quickly win Washington’s assent. With news of the approval, global rice prices fell by 25 percent in just two weeks, alleviating shortages in several poor countries. (Getting Japan to actually release the rice proved more difficult.)