Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Climateer Line of the Day/Rice to Double/Greatest Hedge Fund Manager of All Time Edition

First, the Line of the Day:
Certain agricultural commodities will always contain the seeds of chaos within. Until quants can accurately model long term weather trends and plant genetics, commodities like corn and soybeans will always have a substantial risk quotient for algorithmic traders. Carrying charges (contango) will always be a hazard for the simple minded, long only, slide rule money as well.

-a comment on the ZeroHedge post "Worried About Senseless Futures Action? Blame HFT, Which Is Now Taking Over "Multi-Dimensional Arbitrage"'
Which leads to (from Bloomberg):
Rice to Return 100% as Typhoons, Drought Roil Asians

Rice prices have nowhere to go but up as drought in India and cyclones in the Philippines cripple harvests, according to the world’s biggest importer and the top exporter.

Rice may double to more than $1,000 a metric ton as dry El Nino weather shrinks output and the Philippines and India boost imports, said Sarunyu Jeamsinkul, the deputy managing director at Asia Golden Rice Ltd. in Thailand, the largest exporting nation. Prices won’t peak until March, said Rex Estoperez, a spokesman for the National Food Authority of the Philippines, the biggest importer. The agency issued a record tender for 600,000 tons last week and today called for bids for the same volume on Dec. 8 to secure grain before prices rise.

Global rice supplies are likely to be tighter than last year, when food shortages sparked riots from Haiti to Egypt, said Jeremy Zwinger, president of The Rice Trader, a brokerage and consulting company in Chico, California....MORE
Reminding me of a post from tax day, 2008:

The Best Hedge Fund Manager of All-Time

1440 Wall Street tips us to an amazing story of intellectual (and financial) achievement.
I've been using this fellow's invention for half my adult life and had never heard the backstory.
From Financial Sense:

Samurai Trader!
Homage to Homma
by John Needham, The Daniel Code Report | January 20, 2008

Our Hero

Munehisa Homma is an unsung Japanese hero. We know little of Homma’s life. In some reports his name is spelt Honma, and the activities that were to make him a hero are ascribed to any time from 1650 to 1750. This is his story.

Homma ran the family rice trading business and rice was the lifeblood of Japan. More than a food, rice was a culture, Rice growing villages lived their whole lives around the rice planting, growing and harvesting cycle. Various parts of this cycle were celebrated with festivals and formal ceremonies. Rice was a precious commodity. Rice was more than a commodity; rice was a culture central to Japanese life. From rice came Sake the famous Japanese rice wine, rice cakes, rice flour, rice vinegar and much more. The rice plant produced not only its precious grains but a large amount of lush green foliage which when dry became straw. Rice straw too was an essential part of Japanese life. From straw, traditional villagers in the north made hats, clothes, utensils and the exquisitely fine rice paper. They made important religious figures, masks, decorations and a hundred other everyday items

Rice was the Japanese economy. Feudal rulers, Daimyos collected grain from the farmers as land tax and sold it from their storehouses. Rice trading was the Japanese way of life for farmers and the merchant class. Soon rice would replace currency as the value of worth in the Feudal land of Japan.

Today would be the most important day of Homma’s life, the day he would launch himself on the great adventure that would see him reach dizzying heights of fame and fortune; the day that would eventually see a humble rice trader of the merchant class achieve the greatest honour his country could bestow....

Either bookmark or follow this link, it is worth your time.

1440 Wall Street says simply:

You might not use candlestick charts, but you should probably read the story of Munehisa Honma, the greatest trader of all time.
and includes a link to another take on the story.