Beyond falling profit margins, slowing industrial growth, high interest rates and voter uncertainty, there are two new beasts that high inflation, across the world, is unleashing — riots in poor countries and lifestyle changes in richer ones. Backed by a 39 per cent rise in prices over the past year, food riots erupted in countries as diverse as Egypt and Indonesia, Guinea and Mexico, Haiti and Uzbekistan, Mauritania and Yemen.
On the other side of the wealth divide, the rise in oil prices is going to change more than just diets; US citizens are going to see lifestyle changes. Under risk is the country’s suburban economy, where workers drive 100 miles to work on cheap gas. Will workplaces move to where the workers are or vice versa, will technology replace human interactions, these are questions companies and employees there are asking.
Opinion in Hindustan Times, May, 14, 2008