Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
While the nation is busy shaking off the lagging short-term effects of the economic downturn, some long-term indicators hint the recovery is well under way.
For example, the government says worker productivity jumped by nearly 8-and-a-half percent in the first quarter, the biggest increase in 19 years. In addition, private research shows consumer confidence rising to pre-recession levels. And long-term mortgage rates are at six-month lows, as the threat of inflation remains in check.
In the country, the short-term focus is on getting a crop in the ground, while the long-term outlook is on harvest prospects and unreliable weather.
Normally, this time of year futures prices are poised to begin their annual glide lower. But planting delays in the soggy eastern Corn Belt and drought on the plains have injected risk into the price discovery process.
While farmers are beginning to catch up, the late seeding will affect crop development and reduce yields. At the beginning of the week only 83 percent of the corn crop had been planted. Typically, it's all but complete. Barely half the soy crop is in the ground. In most years 70 percent has been planted by now. And, the trade is factoring the delay into futures prices for corn and soybeans.
In drought-ravaged wheat country, where the harvest is just getting under way, yields are expected to be anemic. Adding insult to financial injury, world demand remains tepid.
The drought also continues to push ranchers on the plains to cull herds and in some cases move cattle to distant pastures.