This past week on RealMoney, Don Dion blogged about agriculture ETFs, news that could benefit two Market Vector funds, and an update on China ETFs.
A Weakening Sun Could Lift the Ag ETFs
Posted 9/25/2009 2:45 p.m. EDT
A topic I've covered and kept an eye on is solar activity. News of sunspot activity crept into the news early on because those who doubt global warming is caused by mankind focus on the sun as the driver of climate. Now, Mother Nature may deliver confirmation in grand style.
The sun's 11-year sunspot cycle bottomed in 2006 and was expected to peak in 2011 to 2012. Peak solar activity disrupts satellites and radio signals with ejections of protons and electrons in the form of solar flares. In extreme cases, the flares can start fires in electrical equipment, and some telegraph offices in the 19th century had small fires caused by solar flares.It doesn't look like this will be happening in 2012, however, if current trends persist. Scientists already knew sunspot activity was slow to pick up from the minimum, but they expected activity to pick up. Now they're finding evidence that suggests this may be the start of a something similar to the Maunder Minimum, which lasted from 1645 to 1715 -- better known as "The Little Ice Age." During solar flares, the sun ejects massive amounts of protons and electrons, but it always emits particles, sometimes referred to as solar wind. The National Center for Atmospheric Research now reports that the solar stream is three times stronger in 2008 than in 1996, the previous solar minimum. Their theory is that sunspots generate strong magnetic fields that keep many of the particles from escaping. The strong stream might mean that the sun is much weaker than scientists believed and the expected increase in sunspot activity is not coming.
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