This week I was teaching in Baton Rouge, LA, at the Graduate School of Banking. Over 550 bankers from over 20 states and 38 bankers from Mexico were in attendance. This year marked my 12th year of teaching at this school.

What Are You Going To Do With Your Tax Refund?

I asked the bankers in my section of Agricultural Credit what they each were planning to do with their tax refund? The refund will total either $300 or $600, depending upon their individual filing status. Here are the results of my quick and dirty polling:

o 33% are planning to invest

o 14% would like to start an educational fund for their children

o 15% want to pay down short-term debt like auto and college loans

o 14% are going to pay down credit card balances

o 10% will spend the money on vacations, boats, etc.

o 11% want to prepay taxes

o 3% fall in the other category, including using the money to gamble!

Question Of The Week

The most interesting question asked in the General Economic Section (taught by Dr. Ed Seifried of Lafayette College) was asked by the class president. "Why are farms subsidized by the government?"

The response from yours truly and Dr. Seifried included:

o Agriculture represents a basic foundation to national security, and the financial and economic health and stability of our country. Agriculture is often used as a political tool in trade and military negotiations, which can distort prices and cost.

o Dr. Seifried also names other industries that are directly or indirectly subsidized, including education, transportation and energy.

To say the least, you could see many non-farm banker heads nodding in agreement, including the class president.

Interesting Perspective

Dr. Seifried indicated that rise and fall of copper prices are a lead indicator for interest rate changes.

Water Issue Again

It is so dry in parts of the South that they are irrigating sugar cane fields. Here in Blacksburg, VA, we have had flash flood watches on and off for over two weeks. My farmer neighbors and I are debating whether to cut hay or wait.

Sports Perspective

The Lakers will be tough to derail. But will Barry Bonds break Mark McGwire’s 70 home run record? I hope not!

Final Note

Thanks for all your notes. I really like hearing from young people. Next week? You will just have to tune in!