Friday, March 13, 2015

Falling commodity prices

Trying to predict commodity prices isn't dissimilar to trying to catch a falling knife - but it shouldn't surprise anyone how quickly neo malthusians were once again proven wrong (Reason):

Plunging oil prices have been big news over the past year. Since mid-summer 2014, the price for benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude has fallen from $105 to $48 per barrel. But it's not just the price of petroleum that has plummeted. The prices of lots of other industrially important commodities have also been dropping.

Erten and Ocampo also point out, "The magnitude of cumulative decline during the downward trend is 47 percent for the non-fuel commodity prices, with recent increases of around 8 percent far from compensating for this long-term cumulative deterioration." The recent upswing phase of the current super-cycle did not boost commodity prices to nearly what they were a few cycles back.

However, Erten and Ocampo report that metals have been an exception—the mean of the last cycle was higher than the preceding one. Still, they note, "The contraction phase of this cycle has not even begun yet, which can lower the mean of the whole cycle in the upcoming years." It now appears that commodity prices were just reaching their pinnacles when Erten and Ocampo were writing up their results back in 2011. Instead of peak resource production we are most likely now past peak commodity prices—and heading lower for at least for the next ten to fifteen years.

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