Meteorologists have been tracking weather patterns and signs of the event using stochastic models to predict when El Niño will begin, and how intense it will be.
But, while these models are highly accurate when it comes to predicting the onset of an El Niño episode, forecasting the intensity is much more uncertain. This is largely because random atmospheric disturbances may either weaken or amplify the El Niño’s intensity.
Studies have also shown that El Niño episodes don’t have any deterministic trends, or any fixed occurrence periods with constant intensities – meaning we don’t know how long El Niño will last. Duration is an important factor in preparing your portfolio, especially if an El Niño occurrence is particularly severe.
Many are studying previous El Niño occurrences to help predict the severity of this year’s event. And they may have found a telling pattern…
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Lucky Number 7?
A report by ggweather.com, last updated on June 8, breaks down El Niño events since 1950 into categories by intensity.
Looking more closely at the dates, which list El Niño events in 12-month periods starting in June, you can see that events beginning in the years that end in seven were present in the Strong and Very Strong categories three out of six times (50%).
Those El Niño events were only present once out of nine times in the Weak category (11%), and never out of eight in the Moderate category (0%).
Most scientists would consider this data inconclusive, at best…
But, if you believe in the random number theory, the 2017-2018 El Niño event could be a Strong or Very Strong event.
If you’re willing to take that bet, you should buy grain futures for the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018. Albeit the current volume for those contracts is quite low, if not zero, and marked-to-market pricing will be volatile.