I have blogged before about rising prices for agricultural land. The trend continues, with FRB/Chicago reporting(pdf) that, as of Q2 2011, farmland prices in its area (Iowa plus most of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana) had risen 17% in a year, and 4% just since the prior quarter. This trend, of course, reflects an increasing amount of financial power invested in (and therefore inclined to defend) the goverment’s destructive ethanol incentives.
What’s new, to my knowledge, is investment by speculative interests in grain elevators. While elevators aren’t exactly a monopoly like farmland (farmers lacking reasonable elevator services have in some cases built their own), they’re certainly a tool that can be used to squeeze profit without producing or providing useful service. The source article implies that the investment is simply a function of increasing storage prices (without explaining what caused the prices to increase), with no intention of storing grain to manipulate prices. Americans wouldn’t do that, would they?