World Perspectives

Recent Policy Analysis

Trade Policy Wowzas; Weighing Risks; Monopoly Hunters

Trade Policy Wowzas It is a long weekend for the commodity futures market, and policymakers have left a bevy of developments to think about, including the following: China: It is still a mercantilist concept, but China is reportedly offering to ramp up a six-year buying spree of U.S. goods, pur...

House Ag Committee Majority Members

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has announced the new Democratic members of the House Agriculture Committee (see below). First, though, there was a slight surprise concerning some returning members. For committee assignments, both party caucuses generally designate exclusive or so-cal...

Government Shutdown Options; Trade Policy Delays; Weather and When

Government Shutdown Options Using federal employees as ransom in a White House/congressional fight over a very small federal spending program (border security) is both unsophisticated and morally wrong. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has now cancelled the use of the House chamber for the president&...

Diluted Brinksmanship; Dems Pick Trade Leader; Polite or Duplicitous; Glyphocide

Diluted Brinksmanship Politicians do not usually make unpleasant decisions until and unless they are forced into a corner. That is the whole point of brinkmanship in politics - to force a change in position. However, the two current and most prominent efforts at brinkmanship, the U.S. trade war...

Pick Your Messenger; Markets Judges are (Flawed) People Too; Betrayals All Around; Common Transatlantic Problems

Pick Your Messenger President Trump assured farmers attending the American Farm Bureau annual meeting that the negotiations with China are going great and they will be the beneficiaries. He said a deal is in the offing due to the duties he imposed on Chinese goods. By contrast, U.S. Trade Repre...

biofuel

EPA Administrator Confirmation Hearing and Biofuel Outlook

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) will hold a confirmation hearing tomorrow for Andrew Wheeler, nominated last week by President Trump to be the EPA administrator. He has been the acting in that position  since July and is the former deputy administrator. Wheeler was...

Manipulated Eats; Manipulated Trade Debate

Manipulated Eats The year ahead will be packed with various campaigns trying to change the human food consumption pattern. They will be funded by environmental groups, wealthy individuals, industry and governments. The anti-meat campaign will be in full gear in 2019, hoping to turn meat avoidan...

House Ag Committee Changes Not Yet Settled

The new House Democratic majority is in the process of making committee assignments, and the new chairmen are outlining their panels’ agendas. However, it appears that there is more up in the air than settled with the House Agriculture Committee (HAC). Meanwhile, what is known so far are...

What’s Working and What Isn’t at USDA

The federal government shutdown is now in day 21, matching the record set in 1995-1996 when the House in the 104th Congress was controlled by Republicans and the president was a Democrat - the reverse of today’s situation. Yesterday the House passed an appropriations bill to fund USDA and...

Dark, Happy Winter Thoughts

The U.S. government is headed into a record-long shutdown with no end in sight. Americans are fractured politically. There is even talk of civil war on social media with left and right arguing which side has more firepower: those with illegal guns in coastal inner cities or the armed rednecks i...

Odd Man Up; Antibiotic Correlations; Half-Truths; Supplying the World

Odd Man Up Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is chairman of the powerful U.S. Senate Finance Committee and is at once mainstream and unpredictable. He has said he disagrees with Donald Trump’s use of the national security (Section 232) rationale for extracting concessions from trading partners, and...

Agriculture’s Unique Pedestal; Globalization’s Future

Agriculture’s Unique Pedestal It comes with downsides, but U.S. agriculture continues to be highlighted in a manner that would have been unheard of a few years ago. Analysts would listen keenly for the rare times when a president would make a mere mention of farmers in the annual State of...

Government Shutdown-Political Chess Match; SCOTUS Drops State Livestock Cases

Shutdown The House of Representatives reconvened today with a series of votes scheduled for various appropriations bills aimed at reopening some federal agencies that are closed. The first one is set for tomorrow (9 January) on the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill,...

Sino-American Mirage; Eye for an Eye; Product Confusion

Sino-American Mirage (Shèn jĭng) The reports out of Beijing are that U.S. and Chinese negotiators have made great progress in their trade talks, enough to extend them for a day. China continues to make positive gestures like soybean purchases and new biotech trait approvals (canola, corn...

USG Shutdown Forecast; Wall Signals USMCA; Whether the Weather

USG Shutdown Forecast Historical: The partial shutdown of U.S. government (USG) services that began 16 days ago must last until 13 January to beat the 21-day shutdown that occurred during 1995/96. The frequency in recent decades of political impasses between the branches of government leading t...

Trump Administration Negotiations: Progress with China but Not with Congress

Reports from China indicate the initial trade talks began with a productive session. Meanwhile, meetings this weekend between Vice President Mike Pence and senior staffers for the Democratic leadership about the budget impasse made no discernable progress. As the U.S. delegation of subcabinet m...

Confusion Reigns

USDA’s WASDE report will not be released on the regularly scheduled date of 11 January as the Office of the Chief Economist has indicated that it takes about a week to properly compile the data for the potentially market-moving report. Moreover, the agency must also prepare the data and a...

Plurilaterals for NTBs; Leaky Law; Big State Power

Plurilateral for NTBs Australia has launched an effort to address the nontariff trade barriers (NTBs) its exporters face. The Aussie beef industry says NTBs cost it A$3.4 billion per year and the nation’s grain growers curated a list of 54 such barriers across 15 markets. But there is no...

Trade War End or Beginning; Industry Makeover

Trade War End or Beginning Some analysts are saying that the downward pressure on both the U.S. and Chinese economies will force a close to the trade war. There are indications that progress is being made with China looking at western-proposed restrictions on government control of business data...

farm-inputs

Phoney Trade War; Stop the Phony War on Biotech; False Plan for Africa

Phoney Trade War In September 1939, Hitler’s army imposed the infamous blitzkrieg attack on Poland and, with the complicity of the Soviet Union, the nation was completely subdued in just over a month. Historically it is known as the start of WWII, but because a half-year passed before Hit...

2019 Will Be Different

Just kidding.  Commodity prices are still going to go up and down. Donald Trump will still be sowing his unique brand of volatility. U.S. House Democrats will investigate, investigate, investigate. The media will repeat over and over that the sky is falling.   No kidding. The current...

Policy Potpourri

Congress is in extended recess and most agencies of the executive branch are shut down, which means the only real “policymaking” in Washington is from Presidential tweets!  On 29 December, President Trump tweeted: Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China. D...

Government Shutdown’s Ripple Effect on Trade Issues

One potential market-related impact of the current government shutdown could be on ag trade going into the New Year. Some issues such as import-export inspections, etc. are largely being addressed, but the possible negative effect on trade (or at least the psychology of export markets) got ratc...

Reassuring Thoughts

Human nature veers toward concern over the future, but facts are irrefutable. As noted by Steven Pinker in Enlightenment Now, everything in the world is getting better: longevity, health, physical and economic security, the environment, etc. This is also true of agriculture, trade and the econo...

Trade Policy Wowzas; Weighing Risks; Monopoly Hunters

Trade Policy Wowzas It is a long weekend for the commodity futures market, and policymakers have left a bevy of developments to think about, including the following: China: It is still a mercantilist concept, but China is reportedly offering to ramp up a six-year buying spree of U.S. goods, pur...

House Ag Committee Majority Members

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has announced the new Democratic members of the House Agriculture Committee (see below). First, though, there was a slight surprise concerning some returning members. For committee assignments, both party caucuses generally designate exclusive or so-cal...

Government Shutdown Options; Trade Policy Delays; Weather and When

Government Shutdown Options Using federal employees as ransom in a White House/congressional fight over a very small federal spending program (border security) is both unsophisticated and morally wrong. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has now cancelled the use of the House chamber for the president&...

Diluted Brinksmanship; Dems Pick Trade Leader; Polite or Duplicitous; Glyphocide

Diluted Brinksmanship Politicians do not usually make unpleasant decisions until and unless they are forced into a corner. That is the whole point of brinkmanship in politics - to force a change in position. However, the two current and most prominent efforts at brinkmanship, the U.S. trade war...

Pick Your Messenger; Markets Judges are (Flawed) People Too; Betrayals All Around; Common Transatlantic Problems

Pick Your Messenger President Trump assured farmers attending the American Farm Bureau annual meeting that the negotiations with China are going great and they will be the beneficiaries. He said a deal is in the offing due to the duties he imposed on Chinese goods. By contrast, U.S. Trade Repre...

biofuel

EPA Administrator Confirmation Hearing and Biofuel Outlook

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) will hold a confirmation hearing tomorrow for Andrew Wheeler, nominated last week by President Trump to be the EPA administrator. He has been the acting in that position  since July and is the former deputy administrator. Wheeler was...

Manipulated Eats; Manipulated Trade Debate

Manipulated Eats The year ahead will be packed with various campaigns trying to change the human food consumption pattern. They will be funded by environmental groups, wealthy individuals, industry and governments. The anti-meat campaign will be in full gear in 2019, hoping to turn meat avoidan...

House Ag Committee Changes Not Yet Settled

The new House Democratic majority is in the process of making committee assignments, and the new chairmen are outlining their panels’ agendas. However, it appears that there is more up in the air than settled with the House Agriculture Committee (HAC). Meanwhile, what is known so far are...

What’s Working and What Isn’t at USDA

The federal government shutdown is now in day 21, matching the record set in 1995-1996 when the House in the 104th Congress was controlled by Republicans and the president was a Democrat - the reverse of today’s situation. Yesterday the House passed an appropriations bill to fund USDA and...

Dark, Happy Winter Thoughts

The U.S. government is headed into a record-long shutdown with no end in sight. Americans are fractured politically. There is even talk of civil war on social media with left and right arguing which side has more firepower: those with illegal guns in coastal inner cities or the armed rednecks i...

Odd Man Up; Antibiotic Correlations; Half-Truths; Supplying the World

Odd Man Up Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is chairman of the powerful U.S. Senate Finance Committee and is at once mainstream and unpredictable. He has said he disagrees with Donald Trump’s use of the national security (Section 232) rationale for extracting concessions from trading partners, and...

Agriculture’s Unique Pedestal; Globalization’s Future

Agriculture’s Unique Pedestal It comes with downsides, but U.S. agriculture continues to be highlighted in a manner that would have been unheard of a few years ago. Analysts would listen keenly for the rare times when a president would make a mere mention of farmers in the annual State of...

Government Shutdown-Political Chess Match; SCOTUS Drops State Livestock Cases

Shutdown The House of Representatives reconvened today with a series of votes scheduled for various appropriations bills aimed at reopening some federal agencies that are closed. The first one is set for tomorrow (9 January) on the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill,...

Sino-American Mirage; Eye for an Eye; Product Confusion

Sino-American Mirage (Shèn jĭng) The reports out of Beijing are that U.S. and Chinese negotiators have made great progress in their trade talks, enough to extend them for a day. China continues to make positive gestures like soybean purchases and new biotech trait approvals (canola, corn...

USG Shutdown Forecast; Wall Signals USMCA; Whether the Weather

USG Shutdown Forecast Historical: The partial shutdown of U.S. government (USG) services that began 16 days ago must last until 13 January to beat the 21-day shutdown that occurred during 1995/96. The frequency in recent decades of political impasses between the branches of government leading t...

Trump Administration Negotiations: Progress with China but Not with Congress

Reports from China indicate the initial trade talks began with a productive session. Meanwhile, meetings this weekend between Vice President Mike Pence and senior staffers for the Democratic leadership about the budget impasse made no discernable progress. As the U.S. delegation of subcabinet m...

Confusion Reigns

USDA’s WASDE report will not be released on the regularly scheduled date of 11 January as the Office of the Chief Economist has indicated that it takes about a week to properly compile the data for the potentially market-moving report. Moreover, the agency must also prepare the data and a...

Plurilaterals for NTBs; Leaky Law; Big State Power

Plurilateral for NTBs Australia has launched an effort to address the nontariff trade barriers (NTBs) its exporters face. The Aussie beef industry says NTBs cost it A$3.4 billion per year and the nation’s grain growers curated a list of 54 such barriers across 15 markets. But there is no...

Trade War End or Beginning; Industry Makeover

Trade War End or Beginning Some analysts are saying that the downward pressure on both the U.S. and Chinese economies will force a close to the trade war. There are indications that progress is being made with China looking at western-proposed restrictions on government control of business data...

farm-inputs

Phoney Trade War; Stop the Phony War on Biotech; False Plan for Africa

Phoney Trade War In September 1939, Hitler’s army imposed the infamous blitzkrieg attack on Poland and, with the complicity of the Soviet Union, the nation was completely subdued in just over a month. Historically it is known as the start of WWII, but because a half-year passed before Hit...

2019 Will Be Different

Just kidding.  Commodity prices are still going to go up and down. Donald Trump will still be sowing his unique brand of volatility. U.S. House Democrats will investigate, investigate, investigate. The media will repeat over and over that the sky is falling.   No kidding. The current...

Policy Potpourri

Congress is in extended recess and most agencies of the executive branch are shut down, which means the only real “policymaking” in Washington is from Presidential tweets!  On 29 December, President Trump tweeted: Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China. D...

Government Shutdown’s Ripple Effect on Trade Issues

One potential market-related impact of the current government shutdown could be on ag trade going into the New Year. Some issues such as import-export inspections, etc. are largely being addressed, but the possible negative effect on trade (or at least the psychology of export markets) got ratc...

Reassuring Thoughts

Human nature veers toward concern over the future, but facts are irrefutable. As noted by Steven Pinker in Enlightenment Now, everything in the world is getting better: longevity, health, physical and economic security, the environment, etc. This is also true of agriculture, trade and the econo...

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