Saturday, August 25, 2007

Biofuel madness

It's amazing how the biofuels bandwagon has kept gaining strength despite the fact that it's one of the main factors behind the steep rise in food prices. (Note to The Economist: remember that oil is used to grow crops!).

People have tolerated this because biofuels have a warm, green image (not deserved in many cases). Who can possible be against the environment?

But its pretty clear that biofuels serve mostly one purpose: to benefit incumbent politicians. On production cost grounds, biofuels make no sense, with the possible exceptions of sugarcane and jatropha. Politicians love to subsidize non-viable industries with a good public image becase 1) not many objetct lest they be called anti-environment and 2) those subsidies come back as campaign contributions from agribusiness (which has no choice, given that it wouldn't exist without those politicians).

In other words, politicians subsidize themselves. Rent-seeking at its most perverse worst.