quarta-feira, 13 de maio de 2020

Version 2.009

Today USDA released the first WASDE under a security protocol for the pandemic. Last year, in April, I got to visit Washington, DC, while the cherry trees were still in bloom to attend the release of the April WASDE. The WASDE report is a monthly publication of the United States Department of Agriculture that attempts to quantify the supply and demand of agricultural commodities. WASDE stands for World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

Traditionally, the report is released in the USDA building under a lock up, this means that that wing of the building is shut off from the outside world during the release: no telephones, no Internet, no windows, nothing. To get in, you must leave all your personal belongings in a locker room and then go through security, including a metal scanner. All this trouble because the first case of insider trading was on account of USDA's estimates of the cotton crop in 1905, although suspicion of something fishy was already around in 1904.

In May, the first estimates of the new crop are released, so this is a very important report; then the estimates get revised every month, as new information becomes available. In February, USDA also releases an Outlook of what the new crop might look like, but it's just estimates for the world and key countries and the numbers are mere guidelines. Of course, this year, February was right before the pandemic, so those estimates became moot almost immediately.

I got to attend the Outlook conference this year, right around Mardi Gras. In fact, that Saturday before Mardi Gras, I went to the Wharf in DC and saw the fireworks. It was packed, but only when I got there did I realize that it would be so crowded. The true reason why I went to the Wharf was because I wanted to see what the planters looked like -- yes, silly me, I wanted to see what kind of plants they had used to decorate the area during winter, right before Spring. Everything was already a bit sad and ready to be switched, but I am sure that it had looked splendorous over Christmas. One day I'd like to see it.

At the Wharf, I merely walked around and stayed away from most people. I am one of those odd balls who does not like crowds and feels very bothered if people get too close to my personal space. I did not even go to a restroom or stop at a restaurant. It was so crowded. Little did I know that, at exactly that time, in New Orleans, people were getting infected with coronavirus, and the NOLA Mardi Gras celebrations would become a hotspot for the spreading of Covid-19.

I once read that being an introvert is a survival mechanism, since one does not engage much with other people and lives a less exciting life. I would not call my life boring, but I recall a conversation with a good friend when I was in 10th grade. She told me that I was indeed boring and sad, so she started hanging out with other more interesting friends. She did come around decades later. And I suppose I also failed to live up to my reputation.

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