Ghoulish markets bring conflicting emotions

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grain silos

It occurred to me recently that I have become a ghoul. I am watching this Russian butcher (name withheld on purpose) destroy cities, families and heritage, and my reaction is, “I wonder what this will do to the price of grain.” And, I am a professional ghoul — I get paid for thinking this way.

Last night, coming home from a very late youth baseball game, I caught the first part of Greg Gutfeld on Sirius radio. In his monologue, Gutfeld was observing that his job was to make fun of the news, except there was nothing funny about this month-long war.

I am watching baseball and Ukrainians are huddled in basements wondering where the next meal or even drink of water comes from and if they will be alive to worry about it.

There is irony here. War has always been hell. Look up accounts of the Union Army taking Atlanta. A famous general in charge of fire-bombing Japan once said, “We have to win this war, or we will be tried as war criminals!”

I remembered these things, as I thought about what to write this morning. We compartmentalize things, and the compartment we are looking at this morning is, why did the price of corn and soybeans go down last week?

Petroleum

For that matter, why did the price of crude oil go down? Why did gas in some areas not go down with it? We do see some stations nationally under $4 for gasoline this morning, but most price boards remind me of a Frank and Earnest cartoon from the ‘70s.

It featured a grocer explaining to a customer, “Ma’am, it just simple supply and demand. When wheat goes up, bread goes up. When wheat goes down, bread stays up!”

Some petroleum futures traded sharply lower and then higher again last week as news reports of supposed peace talks between Russia and Ukraine were scheduled, but resulted in nothing.

The reality of these meetings was the non-negotiable positions of the combatants. Russia says if Ukraine stops fighting and lets them install a puppet government and give up their attempt at democracy, it will stop leveling the country. Ukraine says, no thanks. No real peace talks are going to happen just now.

Breaks in commodity prices have come as the big flurry of bullishness caused by uncertainty has settled into a complacent market looking for real news.

Corn

Corn futures were lower last week and have actually mostly been sideways after the first explosive move higher that ended three weeks ago. May futures actually lost 203⁄4 cents last week. December was down almost a dime.

A good bounce March 21 left us 141⁄2 cents higher, with a daily high of $7.65. We were at $7.543⁄4 the morning of March 22, however, down one and a half cents.

The December futures show a different pattern, since this war event becomes a new crop phenomenon. The December high was actually March 22 when we were trading at $6.671⁄2, up three and a half cents, after a high early in the session at $6.703⁄4. We were up 14 cents March 21.

Soybeans and wheat

The soybeans were also off last week, after making a high Feb. 24. May futures made a high of $17.591⁄4, but we were trading up over eight cents March 22, at $16.991⁄4, 60 cents lower. The November future high came the same day, at $15.55, and then dropped the next day $1.52 to a low of $14.03! We were at $14.991⁄4 March 22, actually up.

The wheat, which is the crop most affected by the war in Ukraine, was down 32 cents last week, but was up almost 38 cents the morning of March 22. The May futures high was at $12.86 March 9.

We dropped $2.533⁄4 to $10.313⁄4 by March 17 (glad I had no futures position that week!) but we were back trading at $11.57 the morning of March 22.

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