Westhoff’s The Economics of Food
| Peter Klein |
Congratulations to my colleague Pat Westhoff for his new book, The Economics of Food: How Feeding and Fueling the Planet Affects Food Prices (Financial Times Press, 2010). A highly readable account of food markets and food and agricultural policy. Includes some wise words about forecasting:
One thing FAPRI has learned over the years is that people who make and use market projections need a good sense of perspective — and humor. In a rapidly changing world, even the best projections have a very short shelf life. The economic models used to develop the projections necessarily rely on a long series of assumptions, and at least some of these assumptions always prove to be incorrect when viewed with 20-20 hindsight. . . .
For all these reasons, this book uses market projections by FAPRI and other institutions simply to illustrate important points, rather than to predict what will actually happen. If there is one lesson readers should take away from this book, it is that analysts who say they know exactly who food prices will evolve in the future are misleading their audience or fooling themselves.
Update (20 April 2010): While stranded in Germany waiting for a flight home, Pat wrote an item for Freakonomics.