Thoughts, theories, lots of questions for 2017

This is the traditional time for lists of things likely or possible to happen in the coming year, so here are mine for 2017’s agricultural markets:

I throw this in here because it could actually happen and because most of the rest of my list is dismal.

If world growth begins grinding higher, that will boost demand for commodities and raise all our ships. Good luck with that.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is unlikely to mess with U.S. biofuel supports because he was elected by voters in the farm states, but some of his key appointments hate ethanol, and he might be moved by them.

If corn used for ethanol is even marginally reduced, that could flood the feed markets with homeless corn, not just in the United States but also here in Canada, where corn often works its way up when there’s too much down south.

And where corn goes, other grain prices follow, so watch out.

With Trump in charge, who the heck knows how Canada’s vital two-way agriculture and food trade with the U.S. will develop? Is he going to target Canadian imports, or will he want to keep that quiet while he takes on China and other vexatious overseas markets?

With Brexit looming, will Canadian exports be disrupted in some unpredictable way? Will British importers begin making more deals with Canadian exporters as they begin to look more outward? Will CETA come into force and Canada’s already strong exports to the U.K. bloom while it’s still covered by the deal?

Will the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement be finalized and new markets open? Will CETA be finalized but new markets not actually open? Will CETA fail and business-as-usual continue with Fortress Europe?

Most people assume they’re going up. However, we are probably due for a recession, which would tend to lead them lower. Trump, trade, flights-to-safety and other wild cards could lead interest rates any which way.

It could happen. It could already be happening. Commodities sold off by about 50 percent from July 2014 and then bounced back in the past year by about a third. That could just be the beginning — or the end. You never know with commodity markets, but that’s an excuse for hope here in Next Year Country.

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