Consumption, Cleveland says, “won’t get any worse. We’re seeing growth in income and employment, and economic activity should improve somewhat. I think, coupled with reductions in cotton acreage in the southern hemisphere, that will warrant a boost of 15 cents to 25 cents in the cotton price, which would put it in the 95-cent range.  I’m not saying it will go to 95 cents; that’s the absolute high I could see. I think it will probably spend a lot of time in the 80s range.

“Today’s cotton market is not your daddy’s cotton market — it’s an entirely different animal,” Cleveland says. “Today’s market is so heavy with speculative funds and traders from all over the world, so much money coming in, that outside economics and outside factors are having an impact on cotton, grains, currencies, oil, livestock, and other commodity markets.

“Trillions of dollars of speculative money is pouring into all these markets, and basically we have a situation of all that speculative money versus cotton traders.”

The impact of monetary crises in Spain, Italy, Greece, and other countries are also an influence, Cleveland says.

“We went for probably four months when, every Friday like clockwork, the market went down simply because there was a meeting in Europe to try to determine what they could do about the financial crisis in Greece.”

Asked about the USDA’s recent estimate for Mississippi acreage, which was higher than expected, he says, “It was a surprise to me because it was the same as their March estimate, and apparently didn’t factor in the impact of the hot, dry weather we were having. My bias would be for Mississippi acreage in the 515,000 to 520,000 range.

“I’ve second-guessed USDA all my working career, and my guess is that they probably didn’t have enough data at the time to revise their estimate downard to reflect the weather-related problems. Until they come out with their August report, I think we just have to go with our gut feeling.

“But while the number is very important to us in Mississippi, it is not very important in the overall scheme of the U.S. or world situation.”