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Let Us Pray

Man, that ended badly.
December limped to an ugly conclusion as nearly everyone from Wall Street to Main Street took a year-end pounding not seen in three generations. Pick an investment sector (stocks, bonds, commodities); a nation state (the U.S., China, or the European Union); or a political system (a democratic republic, parliamentary, or single-party rule), […]

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No More Wild Swings, Eh?

If the calendar was a baseball game, mid-December would be the bottom of the ninth.
As such, and given 2018’s crazy weather, banner crops, sloppy harvest, muddled export future, and skinny-to-no profit, mid-December finds farmers and ranchers now at bat with two outs and the opposing team’s smoke-throwing relief pitcher on the mound.
Yeah, it’s been a […]

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Reading the Facts In-Hand… Or in Your Palm

Years ago, an enterprising neighbor operated a palm reading business from her home with just a secretary, fax machine, and telephone. Her business model was simple: After clients faxed their photocopied handprint and sent some form of payment (rumor had it was $20), our neighbor telephoned them with the results of the “reading.”
While no one […]

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Sonny Warned ‘Em–Twice, In Fact

It’s Thanksgiving week, so let’s be generous: The White House trade policy, marked by its heavy use of import tariffs and presidential tweets, continues to confound economists and trading partners alike.
A more accurate, less generous view of President Donald J. Trump’s trade policy would declare it an unhinged mess that has led to a dark, […]

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The Road to Perdition Always Leads South

If war is hell, then trade wars must be a purgatorial stop along the way. For proof, just look where Election Day 2018 finds American farmers.
Faced with ample production, stale commodity prices, and the lowest forecasted national farm income since 2002, U.S. farmers are now waiting for a winter of government “tariff mitigation” payments while […]

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Sometimes You Get What You Vote For

Farmers and ranchers spent most of last month hoping the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent crop estimates would be proven wrong and President Donald J. Trump’s “plan” to fix “the world’s worst trade deals ever” would be proven right.
September, however, disappointed them on both counts.
On Sept. 12, USDA reported that the already big 2018 […]

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The Carrot, The Stick, and You

The Trump Administration’s good cop/bad cop approach to U.S. trade policy was on full display Aug. 27 when President Donald J. Trump, the bad cop that day, announced a very incomplete NAFTA trade deal—fueled by his heavy use of tariffs—that pointedly excluded Canada.
(NAFTA, or Nafta, is the North American Free Trade Agreement now under renegotiation […]

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Checkbooks, Guns, and Baloney

The day U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the White House plan to spread $12 billion of taxpayer salve on its festering tariff wound, November soybean futures ended their day completely unimpressed—down a sleepy 2.5 cents.
Farmers echoed the market reaction; they, too, were unimpressed with the bailout. “Trade, not aid,” was their polite, but […]

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The Forgotten Lessons of the “Carter Embargo”

Once, when walking across the Charles Bridge in Prague, a friend asked if I knew the story behind the stunning, 14th century marvel under our feet. No, I replied, mostly because my education did not require much European history.
“Then,” my friend replied, “you are not educated.”
It wasn’t snobbery; it was a fact. Most Americans not […]

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When Trump Starts Tweeting, Sonny Starts Packing

      Prince Edward Island, caressed in eastern Canada’s provincial arms of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is a lovely place to visit in June. Its sparkling red sand beaches, miles of white-blossomed potato fields, and rolling carpets of lush pasture form a color-soaked postcard for tourists and locals alike.
      U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue caught a […]

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