By most accounts the nation's economy is reeling. Third quarter Gross Domestic Product shrank 4-tenths of a percent, signaling an end to the longest economic expansion in history. Consumer confidence and spending have sagged dramatically due in no small part to rising unemployment and rumors of more layoffs.
Against that backdrop of angst the world's financial system continues to seek what economists call "stores of value" i.e. someplace to park wealth in the hope it will appreciate. The effort has sent spasms through most of the nation's equity markets. Stock indices have experienced volatile shifts albeit in a narrow trading range.
In Rural America the fundamentals remain more conventional. There supply and demand are still the dominant economic forces.
Favorable weather in the grain belt has pushed the 2001 harvest onto its normal pace. At the first of a week of progress in the field 64 percent of the nation's corn harvest had been completed. Eighty-one percept of the American soybean crop was in the bin. And to the South and West 59 percent of the U.S. cotton crop had been baled, and sent to the gin.
The quicker pace of harvest has put more grain and oilseed in the bin, but it has also pressured prices. Corn this week touched four-month lows. But foreign demand has pushed wheat higher through much of October.