Gone are the days when an average Nigerian could purchase a meal with N100 and be filled to the brim. Even in Lagos, where foodstuffs are generally perceived to be expensive, a hungry Nigerian with just N100 could buy a loaf of ‘Agege’ bread for N60, beans for N30, and two sachets of pure water at N5 each; or White rice for N50, beans N30, spaghetti N10, and 2 pure water.
Similarly, with N100, an average Nigerian could purchase 1 wrap of “amala” for N50 and 2 slices of meat at N20 each with 2 pure water, while some other person could prefer to buy “fufu” in place of “amala” and still be filled.
However, prices of food items are known to be downward sticky in Nigeria, as food items across diverse food classes have experienced price increases in recent times. Of all items, staple food items are the most affected, especially the prices of rice, garri, yam, potato, cassava, and yam flour, to the prices of relatively ostentatious items like semovita, semolina, or poundo yam.
Even the market prices of spaghetti and indomie, which are considered close substitutes for rice, have experienced major spike in recent times. By taking an investigative stance, one would realize that Golden penny pasta (spaghetti) which sold for between N120 – N150 a year ago, ow sells for between N230 – N250 a piece, marking about a 66.67% increase in 12 months.
Similarly, egg, a pocket-friendly and close substitute for fish, meat, chicken, and turkey, is not so pocket-friendly anymore, with a price increase from N25 a year ago to N50 as of today – a 100% increase.
In line with the recent development, coupled with the widespread economic vulnerabilities in the nation, it is obvious that the cost of cooking a meal in Nigeria today is twice as expensive as it was a year ago. As the price of cooking ingredients like tomato paste has increased by more than 200% this year alone. The price of onion, which is a widely eaten vegetable in the country, has also increased.
Consequently, the cost of buying cooked food from ‘Mama Put’, food restaurants, and other outlets has also gone skyrocketed — it is impossible to get a satisfying meal without spending as much as N300 or more in the process, depending on the type of outlet you patronise. If a person were to spend on meals, an average of N300 twice a day for 31 days, it therefore indicates that an average Nigerian spends at least N18,600 on feeding in a month considering that many Nigerians still earn below the minimum wage of N30,000.
What they are saying
A food vendor in Abule Egba, known by her street name, Iya Sodiq, said that the cost of items she uses in cooking has gone up recently, and the only option she had was to increase the price she charges her customers to compensate for the recent increase. She disclosed that most times when asked to sell a fixed amount of food by a customer, the quantity she sells now is considerably lower than what she would have sold at the same amount earlier this year.
She stressed that even the smallest bread she sells in her shop currently goes for nothing less than N100.
“The prices of everything in the market is now high. Even the customers are complaining that my food is now small, but they don’t understand that I am not even making many gains anymore because food items are now so expensive in the market,” Iya Sodiq said.
In a conversation with another food vendor at Ikeja, by the name Mrs. Tobiloba, she highlighted that the cost of preparing a pot of soup has spiked significantly, given that the price of tomato paste, onions, pepper, seasoning, fish, meat, and even rice has gone up relative to last year, which meant her customers have to spend above N100 to quench their hunger.
She said, “Onions, pepper, tomatoes, rice, fish, meat and everything you need to prepare soup or stew have increased in prices in the market. If I sell in the quantity I was selling before, I will definitely run at a loss.”
What this means
The persistent increase in the prices of food items has put downward pressures on the real value of money and also the real income of Nigerians. With food inflation rate moving towards the 2017 level of 17.38%, the purchasing power of Nigerians has never been this constrained, with nothing to compensate for the recent increase in the prices of food items, despite the increase in the national minimum wage.
What you should know
After a careful comparison of the composite food index between September 2015 and September 2020, Nairametrics reported last month that food inflation increased by 110.5%, this shows that the purchasing power of Nigerians is constrained, as real income has reduced significantly, despite the 66.7% increase in the National minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000.
Article jointly written by Samuel Oyekanmi and Omokolade Ajayi
How Nigeria can make more money from Oil?
Nigeria hedging its oil can create additional revenue needed for the country to rebalance its reserves
Crude oil still remains a major source of revenue for Nigeria despite a tumultuous 2020 for oil prices. The commodity contributes 90% of our export earnings and will still be a major revenue generator for the foreseeable future.
With this in mind, it is high time Nigeria explores other forms of revenues that can be derived from oil. 200 million Nigerians cannot be catered for with the proceeds of a country that has a production capacity of 1.4 – 1.9 million barrels per day (depending on the quota with OPEC). In contrast, Saudi Arabia has a production capacity of 11 million barrels per day and a population of 30 million.
This article does not only relate to the issue of macroeconomic stabilization, but highlights if the Nigerian government can make use of financial instruments ‘hedging’ to diversify and provide the government with added flexibility and additional tools to make more revenue.
Most countries who do not partake in this hedging programme, either have lower costs of production like Saudi Arabia and Russia, or do not want to take the risks associated with the programme.
Case Study: Mexico
Last year, when oil prices crashed and entered negative digits, Countries dependent on oil were adversely affected by the crash. But somehow, Mexico for the fourth time, cashed about $2.5 billion from its oil hedge program.
For over two decades, Mexico has guaranteed oil revenue via options contracts purchased from oil companies and Wall Street investment banks. Mexico’s hedging experiences of its oil exports is often used as an example for other countries to follow.
In 2009, after the financial global crisis, Mexico made $5.089 billion from it’s hedging position. In 2014, when oil prices plummeted and countries reliant on high oil prices were affected, Mexico was “unbothered”. The Ministry of Finance had purchased put options with one year maturity to hedge 228 million barrels of oil, about 28 percent of production, at a strike price of US$ 76.4 per barrel — US$ 31.1 above the actual average oil price in 2015. Mexico earned $6.4 billion from that hedge. In 2016, Mexico earned $2.7 billion from its hedging.
Since Mexico began running the hedge program in 2001, it has made a profit of $2.4 billion — payouts brought in $14.1 billion while the costs of running the programme cost $11.7 billion in fees to banks and brokers.
Last year, people argued that Mexico’s hard stance during the OPEC+ talks in April is directly related to the fact that it had a hedging programme in place. I must add that hedging gives you an edge in the markets but It’s far more technical, risky and in a few cases profitable. Sources within the NNPC say that the Nigerian government has not executed a hedging program yet.
So how does this programme work?
Mexico, a big exporter of oil and a member of OPEC, hedge their oil against declines that may occur in the market. Take for example, last year as a result of the pandemic and an unsuccessful OPEC meeting due to Russia and Saudi Arabia’s oil supply war, oil prices dropped to negative digits.
A government like Mexico, who hedges their oil with trading schemes would have been benefited from the drop. In this case, for every drop below the “strike price” (A strike price is the set price at which an oil derivative contract can be bought or sold when it is exercised) revenue is being made.
Hedging works both ways. It depends on who the hedger is. In the case above, Mexico is an exporter of oil, so it hedges against drop in prices. However, a country like Egypt, which announced it had executed its own hedging programme last year is a net importer of oil. Primarily, it hedges against the rise in prices. As oil prices rise, Egypt generates money despite naturally preferring low prices as an importer.
Additionally, the downstream sector needs to improve. This is another avenue Nigeria can take to make more money from Oil. The Nigerian downstream sector which involves petroleum product refining, storing, marketing and distribution has much room for development and can improve the fortunes of the millions of Nigerians. Oil accounts for 9% of Nigeria’s GDP and if we look at that, it’s very minimal if we take into context how important Oil is to our economy.
As I wrote in the earlier premise, this is not as straightforward as it sounds. There are insurance premiums to consider (the cost of the hedging programme), timing of the execution and general oil market outlook to examine.
For example, it appears that investors are going long on oil. All commodity analysts and banks are also favouring high oil prices as a result of vaccine availability and global supply cuts. Goldman Sachs forecasts oil to be $70 by Q2 2021 and Morgan Stanley also sees Oil at $70 by the third quarter. It would be highly risky to hedge against declining prices in this environment. (Recall prices going in the opposite direction doesn’t favor the hedger).
A hedged economy might create additional revenue needed for the country to rebalance its reserves.
PS. I am willing to discuss further with interested stakeholders on the possibility of carrying hedging operations for Nigeria.
Dapo-Thomas Opeoluwa is an Investment Banker and Energy analyst. He holds a degree in MSc. International Business, Banking and Finance from the University of Dundee and also holds a B.Sc in Economics from Redeemers University. As an Oil Analyst at Nairametrics, he focuses mostly on the energy sector, fundamentals for oil prices and analysis behind every market move. Opeoluwa is also experienced in the areas of politics, business consultancy, and investments. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]
Buharinomics: In Stagflation we trust
We explain why President Buhari is synonymous with stagflation and what he can do to get us out of it.
Economists define stagflation as a period of slow economic growth, high unemployment rate and higher inflation. It is one of the worst kinds of economic state of affairs that often leads to poverty, insecurity and social-economic crisis. It is a sticky economic conundrum that is incredibly difficult to escape from.
The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveal Nigeria barely slipped out of a recession in the 4th quarter of 2020 with a 0.11% GDP Growth rate. Despite being a welcome news, it is the slowest GDP Growth rate on record at least since 2011.
Earlier on, in the same week, the Statistics Bureau also released inflation data for the month of January revealing an inflation rate of 16.47%, the highest since April 2017, and affirming Nigeria’s galloping inflation status.
Nigeria is in a protracted state of stagflation and has been in the state since the Buhari administration came into power in 2015. Nigeria’s Gross Domestic product per quarter has averaged 0.18% in the last 6 years since this administration got elected into power. The Buhari government has also presided over a consumer price index change of 108.6%, meaning that prices of nearly every measurable item have doubled in the last 6 years.
Flashback to the first installment of General Buhari and the story is all too familiar. Nigeria’s GDP Growth rate for 1983, 1984 was -10.92% and -1.12% respectively. Annual inflation rate in the same period was 17.2% and 23.8% respectively.
Buharinomics is synonymous with Stagflation.
How did we get here?
While it all started from the drop in oil prices in 2014, a cocktail of economic policies from the Buhari-led administration is largely blamed for Nigeria’s economic quagmire. Since it came into power, the government has adopted economic policies that are centered around defending the local currency, import substitution and social spending.
For all its good intentions, these policies are pregnant with side effects that potentially erase its positives, turning into cancer of cataclysmic proportions.
For example, while the policy of defending the exchange rate stabilized the naira between 2016 and 2019, it cost the CBN trillions in interest payments and high cost of borrowing.
The high cost of borrowing is associated with higher inflation and stunted economic growth as small businesses cannot secure the funding required to expand and even when they do it is expensive.
The policy of promoting locally made goods over their foreign alternatives has also led to multiple bans of access to forex to imports, higher customs duties and taxes on imports and a crushing border closure all of which have combined to send inflation off the roof.
Nigeria’s inflation rate conundrum can also be traced to supply-side challenges such as insecurity, logistic gridlocks, corruption and inefficiencies at the Nations ports and an overall bitter experience in the nation’s ease of doing business.
How to get out of Stagflation
There is no clear-cut set of rules that can end stagflation however a rethink of the government’s approach to policymaking and implementation could be a good first step to control it, especially if the target is one of the major causes of stagflation, supply-side inflation.
To address Nigeria’s challenges with Stagflation, the Buhari Government will have to swallow its pride and relinquish trust in moribund policies that have not worked. Wholesome of Nigeria’s economic challenges are out of its control (like fall in oil prices) a huge chunk of it is self-inflicted and as such within its control. For example, it must fix the spate of insecurity around the country by being more deliberate with dealing with bandits, militant herdsmen and terrorists.
It must declare a national emergency in the nation’s ports and reduce the lead time to clearing goods for import or export. It must address the logistics issues affecting the distribution of farm produce from a place of planting to the destination of consumption.
Monetary policy restrictions stifling trade must be loosened and replaced with a reward policy system that encourages exports as against imports without banning cheap substitutes that have no local production advantage. We need new regulations and laws that favour private sector investments, protect property and enable capital formation. A case in point is the perennial PIB Bill that gets debated year after year.
These are not novel ideas within economic circles and as such cannot be that difficult to conceive and concede to doing. The challenges have always been the will and courage to act in defiance of snags such as vested interests, political ideology, endemic bureaucracy, and corruption. This government has shown in the past that it can roll back on unpopular policies except that it does it too late with not enough time to create a positive impact.
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