Prices, United Kingdom, 1970-71

Monday 19 May 2014, 8.40pm HKT


9.20am local time, 29°C (84°F), super humid and pissing down

MY old man and I occasionally kept strange records to show where and how our bread and honey went.

While I’m still hacking Part 3 of my Elle Ess Dee story, I thought this might be interesting to some.

old rolodex

The Rolodex: “in which low-tech trumps high-tech”
(via Shane Burnett)

Read the rest of this entry »


Originally written on Sat 01 March 2014
1.03am local time
19°C (66°F), humid

IT’S BEEN a bad, bad hair day — and I didn’t know how to handle it. Bad Hair Days are not a usual fixture in my life. That’s okay because that’s what you all (ahem, all of you) want to read about anyway.

Flared nostrils

nostrils healthcentral-com

(via HealthCentral)

Dad said my problem was I couldn’t take a joke about money.

Not true. Price is what I can’t take a joke about. There IS a difference between money and price.

Money is about miserliness, and I’m no tightwad. Price is an objective unit of measure of your level of contractual obligations with respect to those who deserve no effing respect by any other measure. I know, Dad, because you were sometimes such a renegade used-car salesman flogging rusted-up cars in a rain-sodden area, and I learnt something from you.

But it does get up my nostrils (plus some other more precious orifices) when a person dicks with me about prices.

I don’t even mind unreasonable prices, since those could be made reasonable through negotiation (preferred, and cheaper to do) or a Southern Death Threat (which incidentally is also the name of a cool American rock band).

Most people get the impression that ink is the main bag for printers like me, mainly because of that phrase “Never argue with anyone who buys ink by the barrel.” Not true. Our main bag is in fact paper.

For those who’ve never seen paper (because of self-imposed illiteracy or the Internet, both of which comes to the same thing), this is the whitish stuff, not so dark, in thin sheets that we embarrass our parents and our respective nations on with a pen (another fictitious implement of literacy).

Consider the current facts:—

Paper prices

€665.04 (US$921.28) per metric tonne (2,204½ lbs) of 100gsm coated WF (woodfree) paper reels

€830.31 (US$1,150.23) per metric tonne of A4-size B-copy 80gsm sheets

Prices as of 25 Feb at the FOEX (Finnish Options Exchange). MOQ (minimum order quantity) is 20 tonnes (British/European practice) or 100 short tons (American practice). That’s 20 × 665.04 = €13,300.80 per minimum order to the Europenis or 100 × 665.04 = US$66,504 to the Americ*nts.

Ink prices

Ink prices have considerable leeway, depending on how well or badly you hang with your supplier, but generally:—

Standard offset printing ink (any colour) is US$24.47 per kilogramme (2 lbs 3 oz)

MOQ is conventionally 600 to 1,000 kg (one metric tonne) and usually allows mix and match of colours (cyan, yellow, magenta and black). Bad attitude incurs higher prices and additional (mis)handling surcharges.

If it were you at those prices, d’you think you could take a goddamn joke?

Because phoque yeu, that’s why!

Did you know…?

Paper pulp problems could ass-wipe the whole paper industry overnight, and therefore the whole printing industry. Know that?

shredded paper documents via www.photos-public-domain.com

(Public domain photo, courtesy of www.photos-public-domain.com)

The paper industry is one of the most stratified markets in the world, meaning that each paper subsector is compartmentalised with relatively no overlap with other subsectors. So newsprint manufacturers make only newsprint, paperboards make paperboard, and so on.

For comparison, plasticware manufacturers can make anything. The two deciding factors are what kind of extrusion mould they’re supplied with by (or prefabricates for) the client and the quantity of product ordered.

The only primary component that cuts across the whole paper industry is pulp, the major ingredient of all paper products.

The USA remains the world’s top paper pulp producer. But ’Murica F*ck Yeah is likely to sink into some kind of recession this year (2014). Weakening corporate bond prices will be the first sign of that storm. Weak bond prices affect all kinds of paper-product producers more than most other goods manufacturers — no idea why.

Life last year (2013) for the global paper-products industry hasn’t been too rough a ride, even in the face of paper-packaging demand failures (because of bad weather depressing consumer demand) AND in the face of massive bookstore failures, newspaper failures and print publishing missteps (blamed on challenges from electronic media, an excuse laughable and absurd).

I know the electronic-media excuse is absurd because Asian markets last year have seen double-digit growth in paper demand. That compensated for the sagging paper demand in North American and European markets because global paper supply (not the raw materials that go into producing paper) comes from North America and Europe.

Paperboard for corrugated packaging was the only thing that kept growing (and at double digits) in North America and Europe. If paper producers aren’t making enough moolah there, they’re doing something srsly wrong.

Then again, what the hell do I know? I’m in the printing business, not the paper one.

From now till 2017, many in the paper industry (including allied outsiders like myself) see no serious problems ahead. Demand and profits will continue to be slow but stable (because, whilst trees are becoming increasingly scarcer, there is still enough to go around). Moreover, new substitution technologies are appearing, such as the one that pulverises stone (rock) into thin, flexible, writeable sheets but not very eco-friendly yet.

All that, barring brainless politico-economic jockeying by jock-strapped politicos and econoclasts and/or the forecastable problems such as natural climate disasters usually labelled as ‘unforeseen.’

Please pray the paper industry won’t f*ck up, otherwise I’ll die and you won’t get to read The Naked Listener’s Weblog anymore. (Assuming you want to keep reading it…)

*

The world’s most traded commodity is ink. Know that?

offset printing inks

Comes in tins (cans), actually … bought by the kilogramme
(image from author’s collection)

We all know ink is more expensive than blood.

(Interestingly, blood is the world’s only non-man-makeable liquid.)

Just look at your useless, designed-in-America-assembled-in-China/Mexico desktop printer and the criminal cost of ink cartridges for it (Agent Orange-immune Vietnam-made).

Printer ink (as opposed to the professional kind called printer’s ink) was trading at its usual level of US$1,000 a barrel (119.24 litres or 31½ gallons) at the New York Futures Exchange as of 28 Feb.

Alright, printer ink isn’t exactly printer’s ink, but you get the general idea. Your yee-yee ass ink cartridge demand in turn bumps up professional ink prices. China is ramping up demand for both types of ink, by the way.

Please … don’t argue with someone who buys ink by the kilogramme. Because phoque yeu, that’s why!

Stop making printouts unless absolutely necessary.

Recycle your goddamn ink cartridges.

Learn PDF and take screenshots.

Do everything on your $2,000 Facebook and pr0n machine called a computer, preferably with one hand on the mouse and the other on a body part (yours or your pet’s).

While you’re tossing yourself off with (and on) that $2,000 pr0n machine, pray that the ink industry won’t f*ck up, otherwise I’ll die and … etc.

istockphoto_10556767-british-pound-money-tree

(via istockphoto.com)

_____

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© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2014. (B14069)

Start cranking up your food bills now

Friday 4 February 2011, 8.14pm HKT


Chinese lapcheung (Getty Images)

GLOBAL FOOD PRICES hit record highs in January 2011, the United Nations says. The UN index of 55 food commodities recorded price increases for seven straight months and the inflationary pressure is likely to continue for many more months.

In the USA, farmers reported 11% price increases in just one month for corn, sugar and stockfeed commodities.

The outlook on worldwide skyrocketing food prices basically rests on demand in China. If Chinese demand on food and non-food commodities don’t let up, that puts upward pressure on food prices across the board.

The U.S. economy is a good barometer of commodity prices globally because of its production as well as consumption of durable (e.g. machinery, electrical appliances, etc) and non-durable goods (e.g. food, water, clothes, etc).

[via Bloomberg TV news item, 3.40am, 04 Feb 2011]

* * *

via Agora Financial

“The jagged [yellow] line shooting up 50% since June of this year [2010] is the UBS Bloomberg Constant Maturity Commodity Index for farm products. The smooth, gently accelerating [blue] line is the food component of the consumer price index. The latter [Food CPI: blue] is lagging the former [CMCI: yellow] — a situation that can’t last. And won’t.”

(5 min. Forecast: The Embargo, Agora Financial, 22 Oct 2010)

* * *

ASIDE

Food price inflation has been on the rise since around year 2000, so this isn’t news to anyone. Some related stories:

Food Price Crisis 101 (Center for American Progress, 01 May 2008)

This article is highly recommended reading:

“Food prices have risen 83 percent worldwide since 2005 and some staples such as rice and wheat have risen 141 percent and 130 percent respectively in the last year [2007] alone.” (Ibid.)

Rising prices and low stockpiles have fueled civil strife and political instability in urban areas of vitally strategic countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Haiti, Pakistan, and India.” (Ibid.)

*

Betting the Farm (The Sunday Telegraph via The Standard, o1 June 2009)

Highlights:

“The government obviously believes that speculation by investors was the source of recent price rises.”

“… there are fundamental trends driving the increases … rising global population will be a fundamental driver of the rising price of food …”

“Dry places are getting dryer and wet places are getting wetter and this is playing havoc with farming.”

Rising wealth leads to rising food consumption but it also leads to more meat consumption. Raising cattle or sheep requires significantly more grain and stimulates demand for soft commodities.”

“… demand for food continuing to rise significantly as the global population rises and gentrifies, the fundamental arguments for continued rises in soft commodity prices and all that means for inflation are easy to see.”

*

Food Inflation Coming? (Satwaves pro edition, 24 Oct 2010)

“Food, like energy, is an area where compression of margins is very limited:  raw material prices are largely passed through to the consumer.” (Ibid.)

*

National Inflation Association Projects Future U.S. Food Price Increases (520 kB, PDF)

“The report highlights how despite cotton rising by 54%, corn rising by 29%, soybeans rising by 22%, orange juice rising by 17%, and sugar rising by 51% during the months of September and October alone, these huge commodity price increases have yet to make their way into America’s grocery stores because corporations have been reluctant to pass these price increases along to the consumer. In today’s dismal economy, no retailer wants to be the first to dramatically raise food prices. However, NIA expects all retailers to soon substantially raise food prices at the same time, which will ensure that this Holiday shopping season will be the worst in recorded American history.” (Back to Basics, 13 Nov 2010)

*

Chartology: Visualizing Food Inflation (Steadfast Finances, 05 Nov 2010)

via Steadfast Finances

“If you’re wondering what’s going on, the answer is pretty simple: commodity prices have soared in the presence of a weakening U.S. Dollar (e.g. quantitative easing).” (Ibid.)

* * *

Images (all pilfered and used without permission):

  • “Chinese lapcheung”: processed raw cured meat, pork, lamb and beef biltong on sale in traditional old Chinese Soho food market on Graham Street, Hong Kong © Tim Graham of Image Bank via Getty Images (image #81868731)
  • “A Matter of Time” via Agora Financial
  • “1-Year Relative Performance” chart via Steadfast Finances

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

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