MARTY RUSSELL: Our underwear is about to be in high cotton

By Marty Russell

Holy underwear! And I’m not talking about blessed briefs and boxers. I know what you’re thinking, “Gasp, how can he be mentioning unmentionables in a family newspaper?” But hear me out, it might just be time to think about your undergarments.
I live on a country road that is lined with cotton fields. Each fall the fields are as white as they were just recently with the snowfall.
They’re bare now but something tells me they will soon be full of cotton plants again as opposed to soybeans or corn.
That’s because we’re in a global cotton shortage that has resulted in the highest cotton prices in history. Add to that the uncertainty about the future of Egypt, one of the world’s leading cotton producers, and you’ve got a sure-fire setup for price increases in your panties.
Joe Glauber, chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is quoted on Financial Times.com as saying that over the past five years cotton consumption had exceeded production.
“There was a drawdown in world stocks,” he told an industry conference in Palm Beach, Fla. “There’s no cotton – there’s very little cotton out there.”
Just last Friday cotton prices hit an all-time high at $1.94 a pound, up 150 percent in just the past year alone. That’s even higher than prices during the cotton embargo during the Civil War.
So what does it all mean? Obviously higher prices for anything made of cotton, including most underwear, and possibly even a shortage in shorts. So now might be a good time to stock up so you can ride up, er, out the crisis. And those folks purchasing KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest license plates here in Mississippi might want to stock up on sheets.
Most of us don’t think much about our underwear, at least I hope not. But apparently even former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan sees them as an economic indicator.
According to a 2009 Huffington Post article, Greenspan cites declining men’s underwear sales as a sign of the financial times. Let’s face it, nobody sees our underwear so it’s the last article of clothing we replace in bad economic times.
But with the cotton shortage and the fact that most of us are walking around in hole-ly underwear because of the recession of the last couple of years, prices are sure to skyrocket as supply can’t keep up with demand. It’s a perfect storm in your pants so now might be a good time to stock up.
Me, I’m considering holding out until the cotton fields are in bloom again and then making a midnight raid and learning to weave.
Maybe that’s why they call them “bloomers.”
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu.