World Bank chief Robert Zoellick has rather dramatically called for a New Deal to combat hunger and rising food prices.
The buffet of policies that he has spread out is a little too rich to absorb in one bite. Zoellick has called for everything from more aid to the hungry nations of Africa to food vouchers, progress in global trade talks and long-term initiatives to boost farm productivity in developing countries.
There can be debates on the details of his plan. But there are two noteworthy points as well. First, the fact that the head of the World Bank is now talking about a New Deal shows the extent to which the food crisis is troubling policymakers around the world. Second, Zoellick seems to suggest that the problem is a global one and hence must be met through global coordination. Price controls and bans on export of food in individual countries are second-best solutions.
The World Bank says that 33 countries now face social unrest because of high food prices. It’s time to think of global solutions.