Friday, December 18, 2009

Commodity price update

The dollar is up almost 5% from its low of last month, but commodity prices are still rising across the board. These charts show the Journal of Commerce commodity price index (top chart), followed by the four sub-categories of the same index. All are indexed so that their price is equal to 100 at the time the 2001 recession ended. The bounce in the dollar has had virtually no impact on commodity prices in recent weeks, which in turn suggests that commodity prices of late are being driven primarily by strength in global demand. However, that does not necessarily imply that there is no monetary inflation going on in the commodity markets, since it's entirely possible that all currencies are experiencing a monetary debasement, and the dollar has merely enjoyed a three-week reprieve.

Regardless of what's causing the rise in commodity prices, it is likely some combination of a) a resurgence in global growth, and b) very accommodative monetary policies around the world. Whichever is dominant is anyone's guess, but it is not a stretch to say that strong commodity prices rule out both a renewed economic slump and the threat of deflation. Therefore, these charts add up to a bullish outlook on growth.

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