The following is written by my friend Jacob Dreizin. I think it is an outstanding analysis of a potential threat that the media is ignoring.
As of February 1st, 20 percent of the world’s potash (potassium-based fertilizer) exports are suddenly, and for the foreseeable future at least (Russia as a bypass option can’t yet handle this level of traffic), off-line due to Lithuanian Railways unlawfully tearing up its contract with Belaruskali to bring Belarussian potash to Klaipeda, Lithuania for seaborne export. This arises from Lithuania’s political decision to follow U.S. sanctions on Belaruskali and Belarus in general.
Potash is essential for growing soybeans—you simply can’t get “modern” yields on soybeans (i.e. what you need to sustain our present human and livestock population) without potash. The historic, insane price spike and brewing critical shortage of ammonia-based fertilizer has U.S. farmers talking about switching from corn to soybeans, however, you can see now that both corn and soybeans will be in dire straits come fertilizing/planting season.
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(News just came in as I write this: Russia has flat-out banned all exports of ammonium nitrate for two months. Directly or indirectly, we get forty percent of our ammonium nitrate from Russia. Prior to this news, the price of some ammonia fertilizer products here in the U.S. had already increased up to 3X since January 2021.)
Meanwhile, Joni Ernst, a U.S. senator from our number two soybean growing state, Iowa, has called for immediate killer sanctions on Russia immediately, to include cutting off Russia from the global financial system immediately, because we simply can’t wait for Putin to invade the Ukraine, and (presumably, following her logic) it’s preferable to put him in a position where he’s already under the gun and has nothing more to lose by going into the Ukraine.
At the same time, her Twitter account is full of GOP talking points about supply chain and Bidenflation blah blah. She doesn’t connect the dots. Low IQ? No, she’s just on autopilot like the rest of them—can’t think even three months out.
There’s one big conceptual difference between the effect of (pending) Russia sanctions on Russia, and their effect on the countries doing the sanctioning—in fact, on almost all countries. Namely, Russia has been preparing for this since 2014, they know what to expect, and have mitigated much of it already. On the other hand, the people doing the sanctioning—they have very little idea. It’s already looking really bad for late 2022—they seem hell-bent on breaking EVERYTHING.
Of course, in Congress, it’s about going along to keep the military-industrial sector’s campaign donations flowing. Each one of them must vote like every other one of them, they can’t step out of line without being tagged as a “friend of Dr. Evil (Putin)”, and Russia (unlike Israel, Taiwan, Armenia, etc.) has zero constituency in this country anyway (Russian immigrants don’t vote as a bloc, don’t give any money, and many don’t even like the Motherland), so it’s a no-brainer. “Common sense” doesn’t play any part at all. Their common sense is to keep the campaign dollars coming in, and there’s simply no counterweight to the defense contractors and their paid-for thinktanks.
But if the balloon goes up, even if the sanctions are not quite an “11” on the 1-10 dial, we’re still going to see regular gasoline over $4.00/gallon in most of the country, and it will stay there for a while. We’re going to have real (I mean, real) food shortages after the fall 2022 harvest, because of disruption to the fertilizer trade—which is in crisis already, today—and potentially natural gas as well. (Our industry will also be faced with aluminum shortages, titanium shortages, other shortages, but that’s another story for another day.)
Most people have no idea how much of this stuff comes from Russia. In “good” times, a Russia problem could perhaps be managed without huge consequences for everyone. Now, not so much. You might have heard that things are already very tight, everywhere, with everything. It takes five months now to custom-order and take delivery/installation of a fiberglass door. Fast food managers have to order generic soda cup lids on Amazon. Cutting Russia off from being able to normally sell and take payment for its stuff, will (if it happens) be the final push over the cliff.
Yes, Congress and/or Brandon’s people will make sanctions “exceptions” for this or that critical resource or material, but it won’t be perfect—banks and middlemen don’t have time to read Uncle Sam’s fine print overnight, and it might not make much sense anyway. (Government tends to make a hash of things.) If the balloon goes up, brace for impact—it won’t be pretty.
The funny thing is, if Russia isn’t allowed/able to sell as much of what it sells (if only because taking payment for it becomes a problem), it might still tread water just fine, due to prices going way up. In fact, that’s already happened with its gas trade with Europe in the last few months. They’ve put less through the pipes, but haven’t lost any money. The way things are going, they can do this for a long time.
Meanwhile, even with all the liquified natural gas (LNG) tankers arriving from the U.S., Europe’s gas-in-storage still fell by ten percent in January, to below forty percent. No one other than Gazprom can say precisely, but the “technical minimum” at which you don’t have enough internal pressure to pump the stuff out of the caves, may be as high as twenty percent. And, this is without any war, just how things have been going. They simply can’t beat Russia at this. It’s a game of chicken, and if Europe—driving a Fiat hatchback—doesn’t blink, they will hit the Russian Kamaz snow-plough and be pushed off a cliff.
Are American workers and consumers aware of what’s coming down this road? Few have any clue. The way things are going, your kids or grandkids likely won’t be eating enough meat come winter 2022-2023, unless you happen to ranch your own, grass-fed. And the looting this time won’t be for Nike shoes.
I love this country—we’ve seen over the last two years that our Red States are the “last stand”, final redoubt for human liberty—but frankly, it’s hard to fight the urge to give up and declare “you get what you voted for, dumb @$e$—eat it up!” Because, yes, almost all of us voted for this at one time or another.
Congressional Republicans will vote how they will vote, but I hope they don’t step up and “rah-rah, look at us, we’re as tough as Brandon (maybe even tougher!), for real!” cheerlead it on TV (resist the urge!!!), because after the initial “rah-rah”, it will get nasty, and it’s likely to stay nasty for a while. Don’t be stoopid—lay low and let Brandon take all the “credit”! (Just in time for the midterms!)