Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Did I miss anything?...

Now that was a break!  I just kinda dropped out as a string of events from speeches to church to computer sucked up my time. Oh yeah - I also got totally sucked in to a couple of cheesy SF novel series (No, I'm too embarrassed to tell you which ones).

I'm also deciding which of my favorite sources to subscribe to as the free Internet is slowly evolving into free sponsored-content pitches or usable subscription-based sources.

Plus, once you get out of the habit of posting...

So let's start slowly with a burning question: Why do Danes eat so much dang fruit (apples and oranges, anyway)?

[Click to make readable]

I'm open to guesses.

The second morsel will undoubtedly be just the beginning of a longer discussion about water.
But faced with fast changing ecological trends that put the nation’s water and food supply in jeopardy, America exhibits little of the national resolve it once had to address the challenges. The country, by and large, is not developing new ideas about pollution control, making new investments in water conservation, and inventing new and environmentally friendlier production practices that respond adequately to new conditions.This is one of the central findings of Choke Point: Index, Circle of Blue’s penetrating assessment of water supply and consumption in three iconic American agricultural areas – the Great Lakes in the country’s Midwest, the Ogallala Basin of the Great Plains, and California’s Central Valley.The second conclusion of Choke Point: Index, drawn from months of field reporting and data collection and analysis, is that the United States’ important food-producing regions are buffeted by the same pollution, scarcity, and water-security deficits that affect China’s Yellow River and Yangtze River basins, India’s Punjab, Australia’s Murray-Darling River Basin, Mexico’s Tehuacan Valley, and other prominent global food baskets.Yet just like farmers and government leaders on other continents, U.S. growers and elected officials cannot agree, or choose to overlook, the urgency of changing conditions, or the potential for real solutions. Instead American agriculture, and its international counterparts, pursue the business and marketing strategies that led to the precarious condition of national fresh water reserves in the first place: Produce more grain and protein. Use more water. Apply more fertilizer and farm chemicals. Consume more energy. [More]

Finally, this thought which has been the subject of a casual search: Did anybody call this rally for corn to over $5? Not just throwaway "volatility" comments, but an actual marketing tactic of seriously expecting selling new crop when above $5? My memory has been, with the exception of Sue Martin (who is congenitally optimistic) and Mike Florez (technical trader), the folks on USFR and in print have been uniformly and relentlessly preparing us for $3 corn.

I have long been ambivalent on the value of market advisers, so consider my bias. But this rally looks like a surprise across the board.

Meanwhile, the enormous rent-seeking cost of Wall Street is slowly coming to light. One hot area is high-frequency-trading (HFT). That questionable practice may already be waning as a reliable revenue stream.
This is silly. I’ll tell you what happens when the little guy presses that key: his order doesn’t go anywhere near any stock exchange, and no HFT shop is going to front-run it. Instead, he will receive exactly the number of shares he ordered, at exactly the best price in the market at the second he pressed the button, and he will do so in less time than it takes his web browser to refresh. Buying a small number of shares through an online brokerage account is the best guarantee of not getting front-run by HFT types. And there’s no reason whatsoever for the little guy to think twice before pressing the button.
HFT is dangerous, I’d like to see less of it, and I hope that Michael Lewis will help to bring it to wider attention. But my tentative verdict on Flash Boys (I’ll write something longer once I’ve finished the book) is that it actually misses the big problem with HFT, in the service of pushing a false narrative that it’s bad for the little guy. [More
I'm not sure this is the case for commodities, since they tend to lag Wall Street in their self-policing, but I reiterate my caution on trading anything on the exchanges - you are playing against folks you don't know using rules you often don't understand. While you may not miss the few cents you lose on every trade, it's enough to rack up huge profits for no value given. I'll stick to cash contracts, averaging, and my own idiosyncratic analysis and use the time saved for surfing and bad SF.

And to round off the morning, some too-late-for-me-but-not-for-my-grandchilden advice about bullies, from Wil Wheaton:

Later today, I will be beginning a whole-body computerectomy: replacing my iMac with a new one. My theory is the ~$2000 I spend every 2-3 years for a new machine pays for itself in speed and security and problems I don't have. Compared to rolling a combine it's a rounding error, and it makes me far more money than that pile of steel.

1 comment:

Bob said...

John, my iMac conversion to a new one using Time Machine was extremely a non- event. I started it in the evening and it was complete the next morning. The 5 year old one had died. Good luck (and welcome back!)