11/06/18 — It’s election day, and many think the fate of the world lies on this election. But the truth is that it doesn’t, and even politicians can’t make too many stupid decisions even if they are elected. So for the most part, good decisions are made at the legislative level after proper debate, as at least 50% of legislators usually make good decisions. A study has shown that no matter what happens in a midterm election, stocks are about 17% higher one year after the election, and the best stock market year is the third year in a president’s term — regardless of the party.
Expectations are that the Dems will win the House, and the GOP the Senate, which is basically a split decision. However, President Donald Trump seems to have an ability to connect with voters rather quietly over issues such as standing up for the flag during national anthems, supporting our military, vets, and police officers (which we didn’t have in the last administration), and better economic opportunity for all. Trump has courted women, blacks, Hispanics, and Christians and done it continuously and openly. His supporters are not loud protestors, but solid citizens of the U.S. who just work, pay taxes, and vote — not lay down on interstates. He surprised the whole world with his victory last election over the favored candidate that almost all media said couldn’t lose — but did. He may do it again. I’ve never seen a sitting President have one to two campaign rallies per day (sometimes three) for his party’s candidates for the month leading up to the election (just one a day the previous two months). Results will be known in a day or two after this is written, but we all win when it’s over because those mud-throwing political ads finally will end, and we can all listen to the radio and watch TV again.
Crop progress numbers were out yesterday, with harvest of almost every crop now behind normal. Corn is 76% harvested (1% behind normal), soybeans 83% harvested (6% behind), cotton 49% harvested (3% behind), and sorghum 64% harvested (12% behind). We have fallen further and further behind in our comparison’s to normal for at least the past few months, with cold/wet/snowy days constantly slowing the harvest progress. Cotton conditions dropped to 33% G/E, down 2% from last month and well below last year’s 55% rating. Sugarbeets are 91% harvested, 1% behind normal and sunflowers are 52% harvested, 9% behind normal. Winter wheat is 84% planted, 6% behind normal and its likely some winter wheat will be prevent planted this year in areas where rain has just overwhelmed farmers and planters. Winter wheat conditions are 51% G/E, down 2% from last week and now well below last year’s 55% rating at this time. The season started out great, remained great until about early September — and its been all downhill from there.
The forecast calls for mostly above normal precip the next week, with temps forecast below normal which makes for a difficult week to finish harvest in many areas. The 8-14 day forecast turns to normal/above normal precip for much of the Corn Belt, with below normal precip in the northwest U.S. Temps remain below normal for the entire 14-day forecast, which doesn’t make it any easier to dry out soggy soils to allow harvest or winter wheat planting. Both topsoil and subsoil ratings are extremely high at 88% adequate/surplus topsoil (up 1% from last week and compared to 74% last year) and 83% adequate/surplus subsoil (up 2% from last week and compared to 69% last year). This is ending as an extremely wet fall, and that could mean a late start next year.
South America is also seeing above normal precip in the next two week forecast, with temps above normal in Argentina, below normal in southern Brazil, and above normal in northern Brazil. This is an OK forecast, but they would probably like to see it a bit drier to allow planting to accelerate. From here on out, South American weather will be the most important market factor, especially to soybeans.
After the election, we can reassess the situation in our government and the outlook of our crops, but perhaps the people most interested in the election outcome is the Chinese. Their strategy has been to try to hurt Trump the most with their tariffs and retaliation, and they were ready to impose tariffs on U.S. soybeans a long time before it actually happened. How the Chinese react to the election is important, as they may decide they aren’t going to outlast Mr. Trump and may decide to try to negotiate now and reach some kind of settlement (on ag and the rest later).
After all, a 25% stock decline in one year like the Chinese just experienced is more than almost any country’s leaders can stand! But more importantly, how do the Chinese approach the U.S. now that the electorate has spoken? This is an extremely important question to ask, especially for U.S. soybean farmers.