Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bangladesh Butter Production, Groundhogs and the Markets

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bangladesh Butter Production, Groundhogs and the Markets

Article excerpt

The fevered discourse over the nation's economic future took a back seat to some more important forecasts recently as fractious factions faced off over whom has the superior groundhog on Groundhog Day.

Selected members of marmota monax are yanked out of their comfortable dens to see if they can see their shadows, to predict the weather six weeks into the future. Staten Island Chuck is up against the powerful PR machine of Punxsutawney Phil and his 128th annual forecast. Not to be outdone, Gen. Beauregard Lee of Georgia, who holds "honorary doctorates" from the University of Georgia and Georgia State in "Weather Prognostication," has to deal with Sir Walter Wally of North Carolina.

By way of full disclosure, the fine folks at the University of Georgia tersely informed me a couple of years ago that an honorary degree was serious business. They said I should not have added credence to the idea that academic recognition of such magnitude had actually been bestowed by a hallowed university on a groundhog. Therefore, let me make it clear: I did not mean to imply that Beauregard had actually been awarded such an honor. After all, it was not on his curriculum vitae.

And consider the alterations necessary to fit old Beauregard with the obligatory academic robe, not to mention the stitches his handler would require. Yet, the robe and hood would certainly be necessary for Beauregard to stand shoulder to shin with his pedagogic colleagues.

Meanwhile, desirous of taking advantage of the ground swell of groundhog controversy but with no groundhog of its own to roust after having previously banned winter, Florida at one time decided to "borrow" one. Florida devised an ad campaign indicating that Punxsutawney Phil had come south in search of warmer digs. Phil's handlers were not amused, muttering about "trademark violation," and the promotion died an early death, unlike 128-year-old Punxsutawney Phil.

Given the level of expertise most groundhogs have with the English language, not to mention meteorology, there is probably some doubt about the scientific strength of this forecasting approach.

Unfortunately, many of Wall Street's prognosticators are in the same league as your basic groundhog. …

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