Forecasting isn’t an exact science, but researches at the New England Complex Systems Institute may have come up with a formulaic approach that can help them to identify risk factors that contribute to political instability which may lead to riots and civil unrest similar to what we saw in the Middle East this year.
Their model is so accurate that they reportedly wrote a letter to the United States warning of imminent danger just days before the mid east and north African riots broke out:
On 13 December last year, the group wrote to the US government pointing out that global food prices were about to cross the threshold they had identified. Four days later, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia in protest at government policies, an event that triggered a wave of social unrest that continues to spread throughout the middle east today.
The underlying trend of increasing prices will reach the threshold of instability in July 2012, if we consider current prices, and April 2013 if we correct prices for reported ination.
We extrapolate these trends and identify a crossing point to the domain of high impacts, even without price peaks, in 2012-2013. This implies that avoiding global food crises and associated social unrest requires rapid and concerted action.
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