Despite angst over anthrax, mostly among the nation's media, the nation's financial community continues to make a smooth adjustment to a changing economic climate.
Equities markets continue to sift value from stocks and bonds. Corporate boardrooms continue to adjust production and personnel needs. In many cases, that has meant layoffs ... and that unemployment has dampened consumer moods even in the wake of Federal Reserve interest rate cuts designed to encourage more retail consumption.
In Rural America, the pressing demands of the season are tied more directly to commodity output than consumption. Nevertheless, agricultural output is linked to a global marketplace.
The nation's grain and oilseed harvests continue to lag behind the historic pace, but progress was made this week. Thirty seven percent of the nation's corn has left the field. That number would be higher, but only about 14 percent of the Iowa crop has been harvested. Normally more than 40 percent would be in the bin by now. Iowa typically accounts for about a quarter of the nation's corn output.
The story is much the same in the soy fields. Fifty seven percent of the crop has been harvested compared to the historic average of 63 percent.
Closer to the normal pace, 37 percent of the cotton crop is headed to the gin. And the 2001-rice harvest is nearing completion. Ninety three percent has left the field.
Even though the harvest is lagging, the market expressing harvest pressure. Prices in the futures pits and in the country sagged most of the week.