Happy New Year

January 4, 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -  

Happy New Year to everyone.  Today, I want to look back over last year and make some predictions for 2019.

Looking back for the U.S.A., it was a very good year.  Lowest unemployment in the last 50 years; wages up; consumer confidence riding high with 3% growth.  If we focus on agriculture – not so good.  Farm income is cut in half from the peak 4 years ago.  Our trade conflict with China has hurt our exports – especially soybeans. 

Keep in mind that we still have low interest rates.  Remember 16-18 percent interest in the early 1980s?  We’re not burdened with the debt like we were then either.

Let’s look ahead to this new year.  We need better prices.  We won’t see better prices if the world continues to over-produce.  Surplus weighs on prices.  No one can predict the weather, but after 3 years of favorable crop weather in the U.S. and South America, maybe we could see a little less production.

Something else we can hope for would be an end to the trade war – that would lift prices.  I predict that President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will not raise tariffs but will begin cutting them to end the trade conflict.

I also expect the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada will be confirmed by our Congress.  We will also complete a new trade agreement with Japan.

President Trump is backing away from engagement in the Middle East.  We will spend less money on other nations and avoid war.

The government’s partial shut-down will be resolved this month.  It won’t last 21 days like President Clinton’s shut-down did.  We all know President Trump wants a wall to secure our border.  The Democrats can’t stand to give in to his demand, even though most of them voted for a wall and border security before the Trump Presidency.  This is all politics.  A possible win-win for both sides could provide $5 billion for a wall and legal status for 1.7 million “dreamers” and other young immigrants.

Even the liberal Washington Post supports that idea. Editorial read:  “A wall for dreamers” would benefit both parties in the long run.

One more prediction:  we will be able to make progress in pushing North Korea to denuclearize this year. Last year, I predicted a 10% stock market increase.  Wrong on that – we experienced an 8% decline for the year.  Anyway, I predict a 0% increase for this year.

Last prediction:  Trump will not be impeached.

Don’t bet the farm on my predictions.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com

Until next week, this is John Block reporting from Washington, D.C.