China's Wheat Stocks May Be Just Another Ponzi Scheme

Dow Jones is carrying a news report today that says Chinese wheat production will be down 10% this year "in a best case scenario" going on to say that irrigation can only help 60-70% of the crop.

The story goes on to say that China had 30 million tonnes of wheat stocks at the end of 2008.

Thirty million? It was supposed to be sixty million a few weeks ago, I wouldn't like to use that store would you?

A smaller planted area for the coming season already lops around 5-6mmt of production off last season's output of 112.5mmt. Knock off another 10-12mmt in our "best case" scenario and we are looking at dipping into our comfort-zone by around 15-17mmt.

That's 45-47mmt of Chinese wheat disappeared off the table in a best case scenario! Nobody seems to be reporting what the worst case scenario might be.

With further crop losses expected from reduced inputs, cold, pests and a serious outbreak of stripe rust a 20% crop loss would wipe out the entire Chinese buffer stocks completely. And that is if they are really there.

Just suppose that China's wheat stocks are really just another giant Ponzi scheme? They've always had plenty of buffer stocks, they've been building them for years. Everybody knows that, right? Without them to rely on, one bad crop year would turn into a disaster. Like with Bernie Madoff, you don't know there's a problem until you start to make withdrawals.

Suddenly sending out soldiers, armed police and militia to "help" with irrigation relief doesn't seem like such a strange move after all.

And if the wheat stocks aren't really there, what about corn & soybeans?