Blinken, Yellen and Kerry to serve key roles

Walt Breitinger

Last week, President-elect Joe Biden chose three key cabinet members who could play a major role in determining commodity production, consumption, trade, and, ultimately, impact the entire world's economy.

The incoming administration’s choices of Antony Blinken as Secretary of State and Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury were well-received by the financial markets. They were generally recognized as likely to overcome their respective challenges in world affairs and economic policy. John Kerry, in a new post as Climate Envoy, was praised for his high level of knowledge and experience in dealing with climate change issues. Blinken and Yellen will have to be confirmed by the Senate, but Kerry's new post will not.

Stock index futures rallied sharply upon the announcement that Yellen was picked to lead the Treasury. Analysts praised her exceptional reputation and credibility during the term she served as Chair of the Federal Reserve Board. The Blinken selection was seen as one that will rebuild America's relationships around the world, serving as a centrist diplomat who could help our nation gain respect and cooperation. Ms. Yellen stated she would support greater government spending to help our economy recover from the pandemic. The Dow Jones futures contract rose about 700 points during the week.

Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Energy, and, of course, Secretary of Agriculture - not yet chosen as of Thanksgiving - will play immediate and direct roles in determining agricultural policy. Farmers and ranchers will be especially eager to hear who is picked to serve as chair of the Senate and House Agricultural Committees as well.

Energy Prices Boosted by Thanksgiving Travel: Warnings from doctors and other health officials that Thanksgiving visits should be curtailed were ignored to a large degree, which created a demand for gasoline and jet fuel, thereby propping up prices.

Although well below the fuel prices of five or ten years ago, fuel prices are now above where they were two and three weeks ago. Government officials will be challenged to join in with the medical community to persuade the public to adhere to health recommendations which could very likely have a huge impact on demand for fuel and other commodities in coming weeks and months.

Long-term hopes for an effective vaccine have increased speculation that demand for oil will eventually return as it has in China. Gasoline futures for January delivery traded at $1.26 per gallon late Friday morning.

Walt Breitinger

Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kansas.