The Solar Downturn

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Previously by Richard Daughty: The Unfortunate Adventures of Long-Term Investors

If you are one of those people who thinks that the Earth revolves around the sun and that the sun has important implications for life on earth, then I know that you are not a government employee, as everyone from the president, to the Congress, right on down to the municipal employee whose miserable job it is to clean up the filthy toilets after the government employees have messed them up, all think that they can overcome any obstacle — man-made, natural or wrath of a supernatural force — if only given more money in their salaries and budgets.

For the rest of us, we are bereft of such arrogance because, although we are also incompetent little weasels, we regularly get punished for our stupidities by being demoted back down and down the corporate food chain until we are, at last, again wearing a name tag that says “Trainee” that a security guard is ripping from my shirt as I am roughly and rudely “escorted” from the premises.

So, as we mere mortals are connected to “cause and effect,” we are horrified at the news that the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory has reported that “The Sun’s visible surface has been almost blank,” meaning that it is almost completely devoid of the usual activity of bubbling sunspots, and even more dramatically, “The Sun has been quiet for almost two years, the longest period of solar minimum in about 100 years.”

This rare quietude is unusual, and therefore Very, Very Scary (VVS) to the typical delusional, paranoid, schizoid, moronic, gold-bug, gun-nut lunatic running around loose, including me, their king, as you don’t have to see very many movies before you know that when somebody says, “It’s quiet. Too quiet,” something big is going happen, and in fact, people are probably going to die from a barrage of arrows, bullets, mutant spores, flying monkeys or giant rampaging monsters that have laser beams coming out of their eyes and flames shooting out of their mouths, stomping the hell out of Tokyo for one obscure reason or another.

Perhaps that is why Junior Mogambo Ranger Phil S. sent a link to Telegraph.co.uk, where I got the headline, “Crops Under Stress As Temperatures Fall,” with the chilling subhead that “the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling.”

The problem is the effect this cooling has on food production, especially since “Grain stocks are predicted to be down 15 per cent next year” an extreme of which is “US reserves of soya — used in animal feed and in many processed foods — are expected to fall to a 32-year low.”

It is the same all over the world, and the Telegraph quotes, “a veteran US grain expert” who said, “In 43 years I’ve never seen anything like the decline we’re looking at in South America.”

Naturally, I am vitally interested in this as it concerns both the availability and expense of grains, including the ones that make tasty, tasty tacos (TTT) and yummy, yummy pizzas (YYP), and I am grateful that they acknowledge my concerns when they admit “There are obviously various reasons for this concern as to whether the world can continue to feed itself, but” (connecting this to the problems with the sun), “one of them is undoubtedly the downturn in world temperatures, which has brought more cold and snow since 2007 than we have known for decades,” which seems to be what should have been expected since “It is now more than 200 years since the great astronomer William Herschel observed a correlation between wheat prices and sunspots. When the latter were few in number, he noted, the climate turned colder and drier, crop yields fell and wheat prices rose.”

Obviously, despite my best efforts to hide it, the Telegraph has discovered that I am an idiot, and it is kind of embarrassing when they have to repeat, for my obvious benefit, “In the past two years, sunspot activity has dropped to its lowest point for a century,” which I seem to remember means that unusual “low sunspot activity” is connected to cooler temperatures, which means lower crop yields, which means higher wheat prices, which means higher prices for food, which is the problem that makes me wake up screaming in the middle of the night, bathed in sweat, reaching for an AK-47 with which to blast unseen inflation demons, only to discover that my wife has unloaded the thing while I slept!

When I scream at her, “Why in the hell would you do something so stupid?” she yells back, “Do you remember the last time you woke up screaming about the inflation in prices that will destroy America because of all the excess money and credit being created by the Federal Reserve, made worse since the mountains of new money are created to fund the insane deficit-spending by the idiotic Congress, already scheduled to be a whopping 13% of GDP, and you grabbed that stupid rifle when it was loaded?” and I sheepishly said, “Oh. Yeah. Okay, then.”

Anyway, I really don’t have anything to worry about because I have gold, silver and oil, which benefit mightily — mightily! — in price as a result of all of this fiscal and monetary insanity.

So I should wake up smiling, saying, “Whee! This investing stuff is easy!”

Richard Daughty (Mogambo Guru) is general partner and COO for Smith Consultant Group, serving the financial and medical communities, and the writer/publisher of the Mogambo Guru economic newsletter, an avocational exercise to better heap disrespect on those who desperately deserve it. The Mogambo Guru is quoted frequently in Barron’s, The Daily Reckoning, and other fine publications.

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