5. HOG RATIOS AND "ROCKET EGGS"
As China consumes ever larger quantities of meat, the prices of pork and beef have risen, fueled by the relentless demand. This has made inflation a preoccupation of Chinese policymakers. By 2007, China was eating 1.7 million pigs every day; in 2011 the country's National Bureau of Statistics said pork prices had risen 57 percent year on year.
But over the last four months, demand for pork has dipped. The resultant oversupply has caused the all-important hog-to-corn price ratio to fall below the point where rearing pigs becomes profitable, and the Chinese government had to step in and buy up pork to stabilize prices.
Even as the pork price has dropped, the price of eggs has shot up -- so quickly that shoppers have started to use the term "rocket eggs." Furthermore, Chinese consumers, their confidence shaken not only by the faltering economy but by a long string of food safety scandals, are increasingly opting to grow their own fruit and vegetables so that they a) won't be ripped off, and b) won't be eating cucumbers pumped full of things that no cucumber should ever be subjected to.
Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to assume China's presidency in a once-in-a-decade leadership transition this fall. As the cracks appear in his country's economic foundations, you have to wonder whether he still fancies the job.