AFTER THE FLOOD OF '93: THE DROUGHT OF '94?
Although Midwest floods are causing deep local pain, most experts see little impact on the overall economy. But watch out for the weather next year. Economist Sam Nakagama notes that a sunspot cycle appears to have caused severe U.S. droughts every 20 to 22 years since the mid-1930s. The last one, in 1974-76, had a devastating impact on inflation. Nakagama buys the theory that dust from Mount Pinatubo's eruption may have caused this year's unusual weather patterns. But if that effect wanes by next year, the 20-year drought cycle could return with a vengeance.GENE KORETZ