Troy Marshall

April 16, 2015

3 Min Read
A spirited debate between the bulls & the bears on the market and moisture

My wife and I recently attended a nice ag banquet at which we caught up with other ranch couples. My wife told a story about how I had called her to ask whether I should spend the money on a new pair of tennis shoes, but had neglected to tell her that I had bought a semi-load of replacement heifers.

The funny thing was that she was watching the truck delivering the heifers pull into our yard at the same time I was calling from the shoe store to ask about the sneaker purchase. The other couples at the table jumped into the conversation and filled in the rationale for this scenario:

  • “Well, the shoes comes out of our bank account; the heifers just go against the paper at the bank.”

  • “The heifers are an investment: the shoes are just a cost.”

It was actually kind of humorous, because each couple had pretty much shared the same conversation at one time or another. 

The topic then turned to the cattle market, which was an even more interesting conversation, because we were pretty evenly dispersed between market bears and market bulls. The bears weren’t arguing that the highs were in, or might be in, in the next 45 days; and despite being more pessimistic than the bulls, they thought the high prices had some legs and wouldn’t dissipate overnight.

Meanwhile, those of us in the bull camp could recite the same data in our rationale. We mentioned the projected tighter supplies for the next several months, the fact that 2015 is on pace to post the highest average annual fed steer price on record, and the fact that demand has been surprisingly strong. Then, there’s the good news on the macro-economic front from cheaper grain and cheaper oil, to signs of growing global economic strength.

The bears, however, cited that expansion was in full swing, pork and poultry numbers are increasing, economic growth is lackluster, and geopolitical risk threatens the export markets and the global economy.

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It made for a fairly spirited debate, but I doubt anyone’s thinking was altered much. It seems we’ve already placed our bets, and we’re focused on only hearing those indicators that validate our decision. What was interesting was that, despite our certainty regarding the positions we’d taken on the market, both sides had actually landed somewhere in the middle with their overall strategy.

Another interesting note about that day was that rain was in the forecast and the clouds had been heavy all day. Up to that point, however, all we’d received was some pretty stout winds. The bulls and the bears all heard the same forecast, but the bears were sure the moisture would miss us entirely, while the bulls were convinced a 3-inch soaker was coming. Over time, I suppose everything evens out, but I have to admit that the bulls seem to enjoy the ride a whole lot more than the bears. 

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of and the Penton Agriculture Group.


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