The Ghost in the Machine Q2 2020: Central banks, Sugar, Gold, Commodity Hedging, Airlines, Gann, Pandemic.

Welcome to June 2020 edition of the Ghost In The Machine. 

For the UK agri-food and related shipping sectors, the Covid19 challenge has come on top of all the Brexit related uncertainty and the devastating floods at the start of 2020, but as elsewhere also highlighted the critical importance of food security, which the sector has steadfastly risen to meet. 

We take a look at the UK and global outlook for feed and food, and there is an in-depth report on the UK flour milling sector. The pandemic has forced politicians and policymakers to take precipitous decisions to contain the spread of the virus, above all ‘locking down’ most economies, with unprecedented and severe consequences for economic activity. 

We ask what lessons could be drawn from the post WWI ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic, and look at how lockdowns have highlighted that the ‘technological revolution’ of recent decades has been more of a flirtation, from which many are excluded.

It has also highlighted potential policy focal points as the world tries to engineer a recovery, even if international co-operation in the fight against the pandemic has been palpable.

April’s oil futures price collapse into negative territory was a point lesson in how nothing is impossible, we examine the market structures that facilitated the move, the fact that it was not unprecedented in the commodity space, and the regulatory implications. Wherever oil prices go inevitably has implications for ethanol prices, and associated commodity markets, with an already heavily challenged sugar market seeing sharp swings in price, production and demand outlook terms, further complicated by a volatile Brazilian Real. 

Lockdown has also prompted sharp shifts in household and business energy demand, with differing consequences for coal, gas and renewable sectors. Gold has naturally seen flight to quality demand, but a low inflation and near zero interest rate environment should continue to provide support. 

Last but not least, our colleagues from Protexin look at the evolution of research into the human microbiome into a billion dollar industry, and its applications in clinical terms, as well as the ethical and regulatory considerations.

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