How a culture apportions its resources defines it as much as language or religion or geography. Nations of the industrial West are shaped in no small part by the marketplace. Commerce is central to western culture.
This week, a gash in that social fabric remains in the wake of the terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center. For the first time since World War 1, American financial and commodity markets were forced to close for more than a day. Many of the firms that make "price discovery" possible were casualties of the attack.
But the markets that were disassembled by the horrific act are in the process of reassembling. At the forefront were the nation's commodity markets. In Chicago, the open outcry was subdued in trading pits, but futures contracts were traded. In the country, autumn harvests continued and on Friday from Washington the USDA released crop projections. America is open for business.
The bulk of the harvest activity in soy fields is weeks away, but the government believes the crop will produce a record 2.83 billion bushels – 2 percent over last year's record, but 1 percent below last month's projection. Estimates for cotton and rice corps were projected to be sharply higher than last year's crops.
Corn and soybeans greeted the news with lower prices. Most trade guesses were lower than USDA estimates.