Over the past two months, it has become increasingly important to keep track of market changes. Nevertheless, becoming overly consumed by market moves is also a significant danger.
Even as a market analyst, it has become increasingly important to me to keep a good and healthy balance over the past couple of months given the roller-coaster moves in prices, combined with trying to make sense of a market that is moving beyond immediate (or long-term) fundamental and technical factors. Combined with this challenge are new "social-distancing" measures that have many of us working from home offices, limiting outside conversations and interactions with colleagues and business leaders. This has led to a sense of physical, social and emotional isolation in some cases. Even when we do have outside conversations, the scope and depth of them seems to have changed significantly.
It is important for all of us to follow the direction of the market, with major and minor factors affecting price moves on a daily and weekly basis. Watching markets locked in limit-down or limit-up swings can create a wide range of emotional responses that can affect many other areas of our lives. Most of the medical data we are hearing about is focused on coronavirus issues, hospitalizations and deaths associated with the virus. It's still too early to measure what effect the economic and market shifts have had on the health of the general population, not to mention on ag producers. Studies have shown that, in past downturns and economic disasters, there has been a significant direct correlation between heart attacks and other stress-related health issues and adverse market shifts. This should not be surprising, as the recent market moves have had a direct and significant impact on nearly all of our lives.
Over the past two months, we have witnessed a 10,000-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, $0.70- to $0.80-cent losses in corn and soybeans, $5-per-cwt losses in milk prices, $35- to $38-per-cwt losses in cattle prices and $27-per-cwt losses in lean hog prices. Most -- if not all -- of us have made mental (if not actual) spreadsheet calculations on the dramatic effects this has had on our investment funds, grain in storage, milk checks, cattle in feedlots or hogs in finishing barns (the examples are endless).
The market shifts are significant and have real consequences for the future performances of most businesses and ag producers around the country and world. The challenge with keeping a healthy balance -- given the lack of control when it comes to such wide market moves -- becomes a day-by-day -- and even minute-by-minute -- struggle to keep track of market direction without becoming consumed by the volatility of the markets right now.
At some point, this crisis will end and all of us will be able to regain some sense of normalcy, hopefully sooner than later. But between now and then, I have found it is very important and helpful to take breaks and maintain a balanced perspective on life, both inside and outside of the market. With nowhere to go, no commute time to decompress and no lunch meetings, I have found that these short breaks have been helpful in not only clearing my mind, but helping me focus on the bigger picture. And as a side benefit, the occasional escape from the frustration over market moves has allowed me time to clean the shop, spread fertilizer and volunteer to "hunt" trees during the early mornings, evenings and lunch hours.
As with many things, the recent economic and market turmoil is dwarfed by the need for us to care for our physical, mental and emotional health in order to maintain a long and healthy life.
Rick Kment can be reached at Rick.Kment@dtn.com
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