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What’s That Have to Do With the Price of Corn?

The rising price of corn due to ethanol demand will have a variety of unintended consequences. As noted earlier on this blog, it might even make Americans skinnier, since food manufacturers may start using a cheaper (and less fattening) substitute for corn syrup.

Along these same lines, I heard a story not long ago at an event full of bankers and currency traders. It should be said that there was a good bit of drinking going on at the time — but it should also be said that the story probably would have been just as well-received even if everyone had been dead sober. It goes like this:

One night, a trader gets home from work, late as usual. As he’s getting undressed in the bedroom, for some reason he is overcome by curiosity and decides to go snooping in his wife’s dresser. In the very first drawer he opens, he discovers something truly strange: $12 in cash and three loose kernels of corn.

Downstairs, he admits to his wife that he went snooping.

“Oh, so you found it,” she says.

“Yes,” he says, “but what is it?”

The husband and wife have not been close for years, and now the wife admits that she has had affairs, and that in remembrance of each affair, she stashed a kernel of corn in her drawer. The husband is taken aback, but also relieved. He, too, has had affairs — and so he says, quite slickly: “Well, look, I’m willing to forget about all this if you are.” After all, he has had far more than three lovers on the side.

“Fine,” she says.

There is an awkward silence. Then he asks: “But what about the $12 in the drawer along with the corn?”

“Oh, that,” she says. “When corn hit $4 a bushel a month ago, I decided to cash in.”