Agricultural commodities make America grow | Staff columnists


I am fairly new to many of you. I have written regularly in other Midwestern newspapers but not in this one. You don’t know that I come from a family of commodity traders who also own a dairy farm. I think in another of my columns I detailed my travels in the Midwest following my dad through his raw materials career – first with Cargill, then alone. A lot of us come from Iowa with a little bit of Kentucky.

I grew up in a family of traders, standing in a pit at the Chicago Board of Trade. From there I was sent to trade in London, standing in another pit on the London Financial Futures Exchange. It’s like riding a bicycle. The bike is basically the same, but the track changes from time to time. It was very fun. I made a lot of friends and ended up staying long enough to be able to get a UK passport. Why would I do this, you ask? I’m not sure, but it was offered, and I accepted. I’m about as American as I get, really blue to the core, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to have another outlet – especially for the almost zero cost of health care. Maybe it’s happening here, but it’s nice to know I have some in my back pocket.

In my 34-year career in this role, I spent 18 in Chicago and 16 in London. I traded stocks, bonds and commodities in both regions. I absolutely love him. I have seen a lot and met a lot of different types of traders. However, the best traders I have met seem to come from the agricultural background. All types of trading are stressful and risky, but there is a certain added element in commodity trading. When you trade stocks (stocks), company reports and economic announcements can move your stocks a lot, but most of these announcements take place at predetermined times of the month, every month. There are profit meetings where you can see inside the business, hear from prospects, and find out how much money the business has made or hasn’t made, but it’s all on schedule. They are announced in advance and printed on a calendar and given to each young trader. There really is no room for surprises on these announcements. Yes, the winnings can disappoint but the announcements are predetermined. You can have a surprise buyout, or the CEO can step down, but these are usually manageable and telegraphed, to some extent, before they happen. There aren’t too many surprises – they happen but not very often.


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