Macro Man’s observation relating to the lack of consistency between spot prices and the spread between the front and 5th futures contracts (and the resulting implication that “much of what [is going on in] food inflation and non-core CPI [in emerging markets] is going to be far from a passing problem like [it was] in 2007-2008”) is likely to give fits to EM central banks such as the Bank of Thailand, which last week raised its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time in seven months and signaled it will boost borrowing costs further to contain inflation.  Taken in tandem with rising raw material prices, which ultimately wreak havoc on margins, the largest minimum wage increase since 1993, higher pay for civil servants and continued robust domestic demand, a somewhat secular rise in food prices should contribute to at least one more BOT rate hike in the coming months and also lend support to further currency appreciation even at the expense of slowing export momentum.  Barclays, for instance, expects USD/THB to “head down to 29.0 in 12 months.”  Yet rising rates and inflation–a thorn for equity markets as a whole–may be a blessing for some firms.  As Chaiyaporn Nompitakcharoen, an investment strategist with Bualuang Securities told Bloomberg, “banks and commodity shares are good inflation plays for investors.  Net interest margins are widening as most lenders raised loan rates at a faster pace than deposit rates.”  Moreover, he said, Thai Vegetable Oil, the country’s biggest soybean supplier, and Charoen Pokphand Foods, the largest producer of animal feeds and meat, will have higher earnings on increased commodity prices.

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