The Markets The new trade deals are here! The United States and China signed a preliminary trade deal last week. The next day, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was approved by the Senate. The phase-one deal between the United States and China has been analyzed, applauded, disparaged, and questioned. Here is a sampling of what’s being said: “The eight-part deal includes protections for trade secrets and intellectual property, mechanisms for enforceability, and commitments by Beijing to increase purchases of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over the next two years. It also broadens U.S. companies’ access to China’s markets…” — Barron’s “While the deal isn’t insignificant – China has promised $200 billion in purchases…The sweeping U.S. goals to change the way China’s economy functions, from shrinking state-funded industries to strengthening intellectual property laws, are either absent from the deal or described in vague terms.” — Foreign Policy “A truly grand pact between the two countries is some way off – and indeed, may never arrive. But this modest trade agreement shows how much the status quo has changed. Tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars…of imports into both countries remain in place, with an ever-present threat of more. This is not trade peace, but rather a trade truce – and a tense one at that.” — The Economist “Moreover, some countries are worried that $200bn of Chinese purchases of US goods that are part of the agreement will enshrine ‘managed trade’ between the world’s two largest economies, possibly flouting market forces, discriminating against their companies and violating WTO commitments.” — Financial Times “One aspect that most have not addressed is that this is only a two-year agreement. What happens at the end of the two years is not defined… China has pledged to purchase $36.5 billion in ag products in 2020 and $43.5 billion in 2021. But the issues are no one believes either side will keep up their end of the bargain.” — AgWeek Despite a diversity of opinions about the deal, investors were happy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed 29,000 for the first time and was up 2.8 percent for the year through last Friday, reported Barron’s.
More than a flash in the pan: Culinary Trends of the 2010sThe way we eat changed during the past 10 years. The Auguste Escoffier School of the Culinary Arts pointed out sales of American cheese have fallen because younger generations prefer artisanal cheeses. Unprocessed cheese isn’t the only food trending last decade. • Shoot it while it’s hot! Social media has delayed a few meals. More than one-in-four people told Influence.com they had been asked to delay a meal so someone could take a perfect shot to whet followers’ appetites. • Look at all the rainbows and unicorns. People indulged in rainbow bagels smeared with birthday cake frosting and rainbow grilled cheese sandwiches. If cupcakes, toast, or coffee was sparkly, bright, or shaped – it may have had ‘unicorn’ before its name. Why, you ask? Scientific studies suggest people perceive bright and/or sparkly food to be tastier and less boring than naturally colored food. • Avocado toast persisted. From simple avocado mashed on crunchy bread to 20-plus ingredient gourmet extravaganzas, avocado toast became a social media sensation. There are even competing origin stories. Was the first avocado (a.k.a. alligator pear) toast created and consumed in Australia? California? Mexico? • Meatless meat. Vegetables are delicious. They’re versatile, and now they’re masquerading as meat. America has become passionate about plant-based meat products. There is a catch. Vox reported, “…nutritionists who have conducted analyses have largely found that the meatless meat burgers are, well, fine – not any better for you than a beef burger but not worse, with the specific details depending on which health priorities you have.” What is your favorite food trend from the last decade? Putting an egg on top? Meal kits? Kale? Macarons? Fermentation?
Weekly Focus – Think About It“There’s a rebel lying deep in my soul. Anytime anybody tells me the trend is such and such, I go the opposite direction. I hate the idea of trends. I hate imitation; I have a reverence for individuality.” ― Clint Eastwood, Actor