Reliance on US exposed

It's not healthy for the world grains industry to have such reliance on data provided by one country

CHINA’S words regarding the US government shutdown were heavy on symbolism and have largely been interpreted as another step towards the much hyped Asian century, where confident Asian economies take their place in the sun.

However, at its heart, China’s message had some fundamental truths – the world has been relying on the stability of the US economy for too long now, and a move to "de-Americanise" the world economy will be for the greater good in the long-term.

It’s also true within the agricultural sector. The shutdown has meant there is only a trickle of data coming out of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the market seems unable to cope.

Without its weekly drip-feeding of critical data on stocks, yields and supply and demand many within the market seem unable to cope.

It’s been reflected in prices on the US futures exchange, which have listed around virtually unchanged at a time where there is usually an element of volatility in the market, especially with concerns surrounding the Argentine wheat crop and the size of stocks in Russia.

There is nothing wrong with the USDA data, in fact it is generally so good that we’ve become a bit lazy and tended to rely on it to be all things to all people.

But the old adage of putting all your eggs in one basket came to prominence for a reason and it is not healthy for the world grains industry to have such reliance on the data provided by one country.

Rather than just wait the few weeks until the US government can play chicken against the looming deadline of its bonds expiring no more, this now should be a chance for the grains industry in Australia to get a fresh perspective on world markets.

Already, grain analysts here are reporting a surge in interest from international businesses looking for their interpretation on the upcoming Australian crop.

Take the time to dig a bit deeper and find some new sources of information.

One thing that is abundantly clear, the current market dynamic in Australia rewards those armed with information, so gaining a deeper understanding of other world markets will be worth the effort.

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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