Normally on a Big Number Day, we’d launch right in to the latest gov’t data and go on about how it’s impacting markets. But not this morning. Today is comes in second place to the food story. Everyone gets sick of economics, anyway. Food is a different deal. Google shows 25.1 million hits under “cook books” while “economics books” returns 3.27 million.; shows where the appetite is, huh?
More than six months ago, I was writing to you about how putting in a garden and/or rounding up a good long-range food plan would become more and more critical as global climate change (note: not necessarily heating) would likely be along. And since then, we’ve had it in spades in the upper Midwest. Which got a reader of ours to thinking…
“George, It appears the Shape report’s prediction of “[series of head winds (low pressure systems bringing more rain)]” and “[constant drips]” at the “[flooding nuclear plant]” is the weather pattern now, and in the coming days, drenching Omaha and the regional drainage systems as shown in this video and its intensity as evidenced in this NOAA infrared image. I’m not a weatherman, but it appears to be the weather pattern known as the North American Monsoon (NAM) that usually only affects Mexico and the very SW US states, not the central US and certainly not as far north as Montana and S. Dakota. This seems to only portend the calamitous events predicted to follow.”
But only if you eat regularly.
Which gets me to the USDA Crop Progress report that popped into the I-Ching Inbox – presumably because I was hungry at that moment – where what did I find?
The cotton crop is right about on schedule. But good to excellent condition is only 28% against a historical norm of 65% last year. Don’t plan on eating much cotton, I reckon.
Corning is silking at 6% compared with 12% over the 2006-2010 average. Acreage is down 8% compared with last year. Less popcorn?
Soybeans emerged are 96% this year compared with a 96% five year average. Blooming though is only 8% compared with an 18% 5-year avg. Still, good to excellent is 66% compared with 66% a year ago.
Peanuts pegging is down to 26% from the 5-year 31% average.
Sorghum headed is up a bit (27%) from the 5-year 23%. But good to excellent condition is only 36% versus 71% last year.
Sunflowers down about 5% and only 85% of last years acreage planted.
Rice headed is up 1% but condition good to excellent is 60 percent compared with last year’s 72%. About the same acreage as last year.
Winter wheat headed is about the same as last year (97%) BUT only 91% of the acreage has been planted this year. Harvest on planted acres should be up around 4%, so some upward price pressure there is possible since consumption isn’t going down….Oh, and condition good to excellent this year is 36% versus last years 63%.
Spring wheat planting has been about the same number of acres as 2010, but emerged is 94% compared with a 100% 5-year average. Down a tad.
Barley planting was down 25% on acreage and planting of that is down to 96% compared with 98% over the last five years.
Oats is way down: 65% of the acreage of last year and of that 66% has headed compared with an 84% five year average. Condition at 59% good to excellent is down from 81% last year. I’m expecting oatmeal to get more expensive.
Last, but not least, pasture and range condition good to excellent is only 51% nationally, but in some of your big carnivore appetite appeasement states like Texas, we see 3% good and nothing in excellent condition. Oklahoma has only 10% of its land in good and nothing in excellent. We wryly note that pasture conditions in Connecticut are outstanding ((82% good to excellent) and New York features 77% good to excellent. But, of course, we all know those to be bull states, not beef states; watch out for slippery statistical inferences is the major rejoinder.
No, the food supply is not in serious peril, unless you got used to $6.99 steak specials and cheap oatmeal. Just keeping you posted on this because your lead time to get in a crop of almost anything is 120-days and if the weather doesn’t stay pretty darn good, your wallet’s going to suffer.
One other weather note: Good MSNBC coverage of the dust storm in Phoenix.
On to the Data
Although the “offishul” unemployment data doesn’t come out until Friday, the Challenger job numbers are out this morning.
“CHICAGO, July 6, 2011 – The number of planned job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers increased by 4,297 or 11.6 percent to 41,432 in June. Despite the increase, the overall pace of downsizing through the first half of 2011 is at the lowest level since 2000, according the latest report on downsizing activity released Wednesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. The June increase is the second in as many months. Announced layoffs in May were up 2.0 percent to 37,135, after falling to a four-month low of 36,490 in April. The two consecutive months of increased job cuts did little to impact the overall slow pace of downsizing. For the quarter ending on June 30, a total of 115,057 job cuts were announced, down 12 percent from 130,749 in the first quarter and 1.2 percent lower than the second quarter in 2010 (116,494). (source)”
The ADP numbers due tomorrow, but sorting out the impact on the markets gets complicated, though it may go something like this:
Jobs report shows good economic strength
that means the US gains in international desirability as an investment.
That, in turn moves up the dollar.
Which in turn bangs down Gold.
And because the US market has been commoditized by HF trading, that in turn means the Dow should drop some today.
Of course, onto this logical linguini, we need to spoon on several helpings of China is raising rates and then wonder “What will the ECB do?” Smart money says they will raise tomorrow. And then we can leapfrog on to “What will that force the Fed to do?”
Answer: Fed will either raise 25-bips (basis points, 25 basis points = 1/4 of one percent) at their next meeting (stake through heart of recovery) OR they will just yammer and talk tough. Which will crash bonds, and send gold and the market to new highs.
The P in PIIGS
Portugal has had a Moody’s downgrade to Ba2 with a negative outlook from Baa1. Quick: Dump your gazillion dollar holdings in P-bonds! Italy in trouble next? “Bets? Bet’s? Coming out…..” – a phrase that only makes sense if you play craps a bit. Who me? When I have Level II on my desk?
Petty Bureaucrats Arise Dept.
The case of a NYC resident, accused of living somewhere in Gotham and putting day old newspapers in a trash receptacle meant for passing pedestrians is the most absurd thing I’ve noticed so far today.
Didn’t Carlos Castaneda mention “petty demons” in the Don Juan series?
Presumably, you know as a long-time reader, that both Clif and I have been eyeing the movement of the Earth’s crust lately with a lot of suspicion. He’s been looking at that rip developing in Northeast Africa’s Great Rift Valley which is possibly a long-term new inland sea developing, while I, on the other hand, have been much more interested in watching what will happen to the Imperial Valley when the 50-60 feet, or so, of land rise around Mexicali sinks into the Baja and the sea turns one of American’s billion-dollar agricultural areas into a huge bass-fishing Mecca. Now’s the time to be building the El Centro Island Marina, I figure.
Well, not quite. Go read the LA Times article “Scientists tie Colorado River flooding to San Andreas quakes” since, I’ve told you before that SoCal quakes seem to follow huge rainfalls by about two years and this could set up a…well, just let’s say I won’t be taking the I-10/8 freeways much. My distaste for the checkpoints aside.
The Data Wall
Want more evidence of how we’re running out of data sources for the web bot project? Sample this.
Op-Ed: Straight Talk
MSM: Back in the Hot Seat
I usually don’t comment on day to day gore/celeb kind of news items, except as comic relief, but it’s worth noting the comments of the attorney in the Casey Anthony Trial.
The term “media assassination” seems an accurate phrase, and as a matter of policy around here, we never question the outcome of a jury trial, since that’s the cornerstone of American justice. If you weren’t on it, you don’t have the facts as permitted by a court of competent jurisdiction.
What’s significant, however, is the term “media assassination” can be applied to a large number of seriously-hyped stories, such as DSK, the hotel maid, Weiner, and so forth.
What’s meaningful -but usually missing – is the larger framing and context: PR “hit men” are real and there are many well-paid shills on many subjects from climate to politics to various social causes.
Media tends to focus not on what’s important, only those items which have highly emotional reactive substrates which draw readers and viewers in to artificial drama accentuated by shallow reporting. Helped along by the shills, which is a whole industry in itself.
The most important thing any of us owns is our consciousness and there’s a high level of manipulation of it by mass media aimed at ensnaring as many people as possible in an artificial reality where the cult of personality is shamelessly promoted by self-appointed media “experts.” All about ratings and revenue. “Right?” Ha! Not in the equation.
If we fail to guard the approaches to consciousness, involvement at an emotional level – usually toward no productive ends – results. When it does, circulation and ratings rise, you lose time, participate in group-think, and become easier to manipulate in the future. You are, in Pavlovian terms, being trained as a stimulus-response money. Ring bell, see monkey spend on useless crap. See revenue grow. See media ownership consolidate to the bell-ringers.
We have, as a nation in decline, sold our focus on inventiveness, enterprise, creativity, and enlightenment; and all for ratings points.
In its place we’ve substituted everything from shock-jocks to vidiots. “Stories” about masturbation? GMAFB. Shill-provided textbooks and curriculum? You betcha.
Next time you find yourself being drawn into one of these “artificial dramas” ask yourself this: “Is the news story I’m watching a potential tool to improve my life, or will it offer me a way to restructure my life for the better? Will it make me healthier? More independent? More self-reliant and resilient?”
It’s a tough question to ask, and hard to remember, but it circles back to one of the cornerstones of UrbanSurvival Philosophy: If you are not in charge of your life – which means exercising 100% ownership and access control to your own thinking at all times – who is?
More important: Can they be trusted?
No one in their right mind would trust the vidiots. So they don’t ask. They purport to report not disclosing that if you’re hearing the hype, you’re already in the clutches of The Machine.
If it ain’t actionable, I ain’t worth watching. But that’s me. But seems to me if you were glued to the tube for this one, you have an ownership question to go think about.
(more after this…)