The Lunchtime Ramble

09/08/12 -- Have you missed me? I've been in the Maldives for a bit of R&R, although I've kept my hand in with a couple of morning blogs every day as you may have noticed.

Yes, dedicated to the core, Nogger actually works a couple of hours a day even when on holiday in the Maldives.

So, I'm back, at least in a manner of speaking, although I'm not planning on hitting the ground running until Monday. So today/tomorrow I will be more like caressing the ground gently. Nibbling it's ear a bit and maybe giving it a bit of a tickle and a playful pat on the bottom.

I blame the jet lag. I was wide awake at 4.30am this morning and up by 5.30am so I'll probably be nodding off into my cocoa by half past seven tonight, which is about bedtime over there. I'd thoroughly recommend the place by the way. Imagine living in a nice sunny bar, manned by incredibly friendly staff, which has an enormous tropical fish tank in the middle of it into which you occasionally dip your head when you're hot, and you aren't far off.

It's a long way though, although the tedium was broken somewhat when a stewardess spilt a full tray of orange juice into the lap of a sleeping man about three rows in front of me on the way home yesterday. Rudely awoken by this impromptu and unique "golden shower" the guy was so startled that after she & he had dried himself off a bit he became so flustered that when she finally asked him if he'd actually like a glass of orange juice to drink, and he said yes, he then went and spilt that one all over himself too.

Although thinking about it, maybe that wasn't the mistake it seemed like at the time. Up a bit, down a bit, yes you've almost got it...

Emirates were very accomodating like that I have to say, with loads of entertainment on the screens in the headrest in front of you. Although beating the computer at chess with fools mate, which it kept falling for repeatedly despite being set on "level: hard", only has limited amusement value after the first sixteen goes.

They give you loads of free newspapers too. Talking of which, what on earth has happened to the Daily Mail crossword? It's never been overly testing I will grant you, but "17 down: one more than nineteen, six letters beginning with T" wasn't the kind of challenge I was looking for to help pass a long journey having spanked the computer at chess.

Anyway, the point is I am back, and for all of you who have emailed & sent me texts enquiring about mine, MrsN#3's & the dog's well-being, everybody is fine, you worry too much you do & I will be getting back to you individually next week.

Meanwhile the markets are fully steady I see, despite Russia having absolutely no intention whatsoever of introducing any export restrictions, honest.

I read one report this morning that said the Russian Institute for Agricultural Markets, IKAR, estimate Russia’s grain exports at 3.5 MMT in August versus a second highest on record for the month of July of 2.1 MMT last month. If this was the Daily Mirror crossword I'd now ask you "how much grain do IKAR reckon Russia will have exported by the end of August" and you'd go "erm, hang on where's that calculator, I think I put it over there next to my USB bunny rabbit thing that lights up and does a little dance every time I get an email, here it is, erm...I make that 5.6 MMT my little suntanned Nogger chum."

Right, so with the latest official word on grain exports now only 10-12 MMT, and half(ish) of that likely to be gone by the end of the month is anyone else getting the impression that maybe the Russian grain companies are currently exporting like stink, fully expecting that a ban is coming. A similar ban depressed domestic prices in 2010/11, despite buoyant global levels as you may recall. In fact Russian merchants were also pushing grain out of the country like Usain Bolt off a shovel in the summer of 2010 just before the export embargo was officially introduced.

So why deny that the inevitable is likely to happen now? The final clue to this not very complicated Daily Mail style puzzle is that Russia are to finally set to join the World Trade Organisation this month after 18 years of negotiations, high class naked dancing girls, lots of vodka and bribery.

Introducing an export ban now would make bad press. Once they are in however, they can halt shipments if there is "a threat to national food supplies" - a case that should be too difficult to prove. Indeed, exports of 3.5 MMT in August alone would add weight to their case for being forced into doing so.