Doug Block, a dairy farmer for 45 years, says he grew up in an era when the price of corn feed for cows fluctuated by just 6¢ a bushel. The U.S. didn’t ship much cheese and butter overseas, and the government often bought cheese to buoy the market when prices sagged. Those days are gone. Block’s business depends on pasture conditions in New Zealand, Europe’s inventories, and China’s milk consumption. He also has to deal with wild swings in the market after the U.S. government scaled back support over the last decade.So in the past decade or so, Block and others in the dairy business have increasingly been doing what corn farmers have done since at least the late 1800s. They’re hedging with futures, essentially locking in a price down the road. “More and more dairy farmers will participate, because it’s a needed form of risk management,” Block says. And it’s become a booming business: Outstanding futures and options … [Read more...] about Milk Is Risky Business. Got Futures?
Labor unions 1800s
After labor actions disrupted cross-Channel traffic for days - and won workers a date with France's Transportation Ministry - a ferry union announced on Wednesday that it would allow the Port of Calais to reopen at 8 p.m. local time (1800 UTC). The workers are protesting a pending business to sell two MyFerryLink boats to a Danish company, a deal that could kill 400 jobs in Calais. The strikes, which began last week , mostly disrupted traffic in the Calais area, stopping commercial and passenger trains from entering the Eurotunnel and allowing some of the migrants whose Calais camps have become right-wing talking points on both sides of the Channel to sneak onto Britain-bound lorries. The latest actions, however, have also left lorries parked on a normally zipping highway in the south of England, connecting Dover to the M25 motorway encircling London. "Due to the disruption at French ports, HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) destined for Port of Dover and Eurotunnel terminals are being … [Read more...] about Calais port strikes cause further jams in France and England
The industry which has shaped the history and culture of Germany's Ruhr area for over 200 years is in decline. Unemployment is high, and many factories, warehouses and hangers lie empty. If the region is to survive, it must reinvent itself, said Fritz Pleitgen. A former director general of the western German broadcaster WDR, which serves the state of Northrhine-Westfalia where the Ruhr area is located, and former president of the European Broadcasting Union, Pleitgen is the man behind the region's 2010 Culture Capital program. "We are working hard to get rid of the old image of the Ruhr area," he said. "People outside the Ruhr area believe that this is still a run-down industrial region with wrecked, grey cities and a poisoned landscape. That is not true anymore. We have our problems, but we are very rich with cultural events, we are very rich with innovative industry and we now have good results with science." With slogans like "the Ruhr breathes culture not coal" and "change … [Read more...] about Culture capital Ruhr insists high-brow makeover is more than skin-deep