The Inflation Factor: How Rising Food and Energy Prices Impact the Economy
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The Inflation Factor: How Rising Food and Energy Prices Impact the Economy
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The Inflation Factor: How Rising Food and Energy Prices Impact the Economy
This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the effects of energy supply disruptions are cascading across everything from food prices to electricity to consumer sentiment.
In response to soaring prices, many OECD countries are tapping into their strategic petroleum reserves. In fact, since March, the U.S. has sold a record one million barrels of oil per day from these reserves. This, among other factors, has led gasoline prices to fall more recently—yet deficits could follow into 2023, causing prices to increase.
With data from the World Bank, the above infographic charts energy shocks over the last half century and what this means for the global economy looking ahead.
How does today’s energy price shock compare to previous spikes in real terms?
*2022 forecast

As the above table shows, the annual price of crude oil is forecasted to average $93 per barrel equivalent in 2022⁠. By comparison, during the 2008 and 1979 price shocks, crude oil averaged $127 and $119 per barrel, respectively.
What distinguishes the 2022 energy spike is that prices have soared across all fuels. Where price shocks were more or less isolated in the past, many countries such as Germany and the Netherlands are looking to coal to make up for oil supply disruptions. Meanwhile, European natural gas prices have hit record highs.
Food prices have also spiked. Driven by higher input costs across fuel, chemicals, and fertilizer, agriculture commodity prices are forecasted to rise 18% in 2022. Fertilizer prices alone could increase 70% in part due to Russia’s dominance of the global fertilizer market—exporting more than any country worldwide.
Oil feeds into nearly everything, from food to smartphones. In fact, the price of oil influences as much as 64% of food price movements.
How could energy and food shocks affect the world economy in the near future, and why is a lot riding on the price of oil?
In 2022, inflation became a global phenomenon—impacting 100% of advanced countries and 87% of emerging markets and developing economies analyzed by the World Bank.
Sample includes 31 emerging markets and developing economies and 12 advanced economies

By contrast, roughly two-thirds of advanced economies and just over half of emerging markets experienced inflation above target in 2021.
This has contributed to tighter monetary conditions. The table below shows how rising inflation in the U.S. has corresponded with interest rate hikes since the 1980s:
2023 is an estimate based on market expectations of the level of the Fed Funds rate in mid-2023. U.S. Core CPI for 2023 based on latest data available.

In many cases, when the U.S. has rapidly tightened monetary policy in response to price pressures, emerging markets and developing economies have experienced financial crises amid higher borrowing costs.
Energy price shocks could add greater headwinds to global growth prospects:
Together, price spikes, hawkish monetary policy, and COVID-19 lockdowns in China could negatively impact global growth.
Even before the energy price shock of 2022, global food insecurity was increasing due to COVID-19 and mounting inflationary pressures.
Sustained food shortages and high food prices could send millions into acute food insecurity.
In addition, high fuel and food prices are often correlated with mass protests, political violence, and riots. While Sri Lanka and Peru have already begun to see heightened riots, Turkey and Egypt are also at risk for social unrest as the cost of living accelerates and food insecurity worsens.
Since World War II, oil price shocks have been a major constraint on economic growth. As the war in Ukraine continues, the outlook for today’s energy market is far from clear as a number of geopolitical factors could sway oil price movements and its corresponding effects.
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A wave of electric semi trucks is expected to arrive over the next few years. View this infographic to learn more.
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Electric semi trucks are coming, and they could help to decarbonize the shipping and logistics industry. However, range remains a major limitation.
This presents challenges for long-hauling, where the average diesel-powered semi can travel up to 2,000 miles before refueling. Compare this to the longest range electric model, the Tesla Semi, which promises up to 500 miles. A key word here is “promises”—the Semi is still in development, and nothing has been proven yet.
In this infographic, we’ve listed all of the upcoming electric semi trucks, complete with range and charge time estimates. Further in the article, we’ll explore the potential commercial use cases of this first generation of trucks.
The following table includes all of the models included in the above infographic.
Source: US News, CNBC, InsideEVs
With the exception of Tesla’s Semi, all of these trucks are currently in operation or expected to begin delivering this year. You may want to take this with a grain of salt, as the electric vehicle industry has become notorious for delays.
In terms of range, Tesla and Nikola are promising the highest figures (300+ miles), while the rest of the competition is targeting between 150 to 275 miles. It’s reasonable to assume that the Tesla and Nikola semis will be the most expensive.
Charge times are difficult to compare because of the variables involved. This includes the amount of charge and the type of charger used. Nikola, for example, claims it will take 2 hours to charge its Tre BEV from 10% to 80% when using a 240kW charger.
Charger technology is also improving quickly. Tesla is believed to be rolling out a 1 MW (1,000 kW) charger that could add 400 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
Given their relatively lower ranges, electric semis are unlikely to be used for long hauls.
Instead, they’re expected to be deployed on regional and urban routes, where the total distance traveled between destinations is much lower. There are many reasons why electric semis are suited for these routes, as listed below:
An example of a regional route would be delivering containers from the Port of Los Angeles to the Los Angeles Transportation Center Intermodal Facility (LATC). The LATC is where containers are loaded onto trains, and is located roughly 28 miles away.
With a round trip totaling nearly 60 miles, an electric semi with a range of 200 miles could feasibly complete this route three times before needing a charge. The truck could be charged overnight, as well as during off hours in the middle of the day.
We’ve covered the differences between battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the past, but this was from a passenger car perspective. The conclusion, in that case, was that battery electric has become the dominant technology. In terms of long-haul trucking, however, hydrogen may have an edge.
If we look at what will become mainstream, probably for smaller mobility it will be EVs, and fuel cells for larger mobility. That is the conclusion so far.
-Toshihiro Mibe, CEO, Honda
There are several reasons for why hydrogen could be beneficial for delivering heavy cargo over long distances. These are listed below:
This last point hasn’t been proven yet, but we can reference Nikola, which is developing hydrogen-powered semi trucks. The company has two models in the works, which are the Tre FCEV with a range of 500 miles, and the Two FCEV with a range of 900 miles.
Keep in mind that these numbers are once again estimates and that Nikola has been accused of fraud in the past.
Although there are very few models available, electric semi trucks are indeed being used today.
In January 2020, Anheuser-Busch announced that it had received its 100th 8TT. The 8TT is produced by China’s BYD Motors and was one of the first electric semis to see real-world application. The brewing company uses its 8TTs to deliver products to retail destinations across California (e.g. grocery stores).
Another U.S. company using electric semis is Walmart. The retailer is trialing both the eCascadia from Freightliner and the Tre BEV from Nikola. The trucks are being used to pick up cargo from suppliers and then deliver it to regional consolidation centers.
90 different elements form the building blocks for everything on Earth. Some are being used up, and soon could be endangered.
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The building blocks for everything on Earth are made from 90 different naturally occurring elements.
This visualization made by the European Chemical Society (EuChemS), shows a periodic table of these 90 different elements, highlighting which ones are in abundance and which ones are in serious threat as of 2021.
On the graphic, the area of each element relates to its number of atoms on a logarithmic scale. The color-coding shows whether there’s enough of each element, or whether the element is becoming scarce, based on current consumption levels.
While these elements don’t technically run out and instead transform (except for helium, which rises and escapes from Earth’s atmosphere), some are being used up exceptionally fast, to the point where they may soon become extremely scarce.
One element worth pointing out on the graphic is carbon, which is three different colors: green, red, and dark gray.
For more elements-related content, check out our channel dedicated to raw materials and the megatrends that drive them, VC Elements.
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