2021 Fires, Floods, Frost
As we celebrate the calendar turning, people in Colorado are without their homes due to a fearsome fire fed by winds over 100 MPH. Unfortunately, the year is ending filled with extreme natural disasters as the rest of it has been.
Turkey, Siberia and the U.S., including Lake Tahoe, went up in flames in 2021. By contrast, there was far too much moisture for some. Floods ravaged China, Europe, Australia, Malaysia and the U.S., killing people. Hurricane Ida, the fifth-strongest hurricane in history to hit the U.S., added to that. Last winter, Texans went without heat during extreme cold due to severe storms and a failure of their power grid.
These extraordinary events impact our farmers, ranchers, fishers, miners, loggers, builders and manufacturers’ livelihoods. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), comprised of 195 nations, strongly urges leaders to make major adjustments to possibly mitigate future extreme events. March corn traded at $5.96 per bushel, while beans for March delivery brought $13.40.
Inflation, Omicron Focus as 2022 Arrives
Inflation fears turned into a reality as our Federal Reserve watched what they thought was a temporary issue. Interest rates have become a joint source of interest to investors, speculators and commodity producers as they realize government spending and its inflationary consequences could become just as important and unpredictable as the weather and the pandemic. The Fed hinted they were planning to raise interest rates three times in 2022.
Last week, deaths from omicron surpassed all previous COVID-19 deaths, including those from other variants. Flight cancellations due to staff shortages were but one of the statistics directly related to the virus’ economic impact. February unleaded gasoline went for $2.23 on New Year’s Eve, up slightly compared to the previous Friday. February crude brought $75.50 per barrel.
Russia Tension Builds
The accumulation of over 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and related buildup of NATO troops nearby raised eyebrows as world leaders, especially Biden and Putin, continued talks. Russia’s nuclear armament size, combined with its improving relationship with China, presents a formidable challenge for U.S. hegemony and world stability. On a regional level, the supply of natural gas to Germany and surrounding countries is dependent on Russia. President Biden will talk to Mr. Putin early next year after warning him the U.S. will respond aggressively if Russia invades Ukraine. Natural gas for February delivery traded at $3.69 per million BTUs as of midday on New Year’s Eve, up a shade from last week.