Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. US Housing Market Real Estate Crash The Next Shoe To Drop – Part II - Chris_Vermeulen
2.The Coronavirus Greatest Economic Depression in History? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.US Real Estate Housing Market Crash Is The Next Shoe To Drop - Chris_Vermeulen
4.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications and AI Mega-trend Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Are Coronavirus Death Statistics Exaggerated? Worse than Seasonal Flu or Not?- Nadeem_Walayat
6.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications, Global Recession and AI Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Debt Climax - James_Quinn
8.Dow Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Britain's FAKE Coronavirus Death Statistics Exposed - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Commodity Markets Crash Catastrophe Charts - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
How Sony Is Fueling the Computer Vision Boom - 3rd Aug 20
Computer Gaming System Rig Top Tips For 6 Years Future Proofing Build Spec - 3rd Aug 20
Cornwwall Bude Caravan Park Holidays 2020 - Look Inside Holiday Resort Caravan - 3rd Aug 20
UK Caravan Park Holidays 2020 Review - Hoseasons Cayton Bay North East England - 3rd Aug 20
Best Travel Bags for 2020 Summer Holidays , Back Sling packs, water proof, money belt and tactical - 3rd Aug 20
Precious Metals Warn Of Increased Volatility Ahead - 2nd Aug 20
The Key USDX Sign for Gold and Silver - 2nd Aug 20
Corona Crisis Will Have Lasting Impact on Gold Market - 2nd Aug 20
Gold & Silver: Two Pictures - 1st Aug 20
The Bullish Case for Stocks Isn't Over Yet - 1st Aug 20
Is Gold Price Action Warning Of Imminent Monetary Collapse - Part 2? - 1st Aug 20
Will America Accept the World's Worst Pandemic Response Government - 1st Aug 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More – Part II - 1st Aug 20
Trump White House Accelerating Toward a US Dollar Crisis - 31st Jul 20
Why US Commercial Real Estate is Set to Get Slammed - 31st Jul 20
Gold Price Blows Through Upside Resistance - The Chase Is On - 31st Jul 20
Is Crude Oil Price Setting Up for a Waterfall Decline? - 31st Jul 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More - 30th Jul 20
Why Big Money Is Already Pouring Into Edge Computing Tech Stocks - 30th Jul 20
Economic and Geopolitical Worries Fuel Gold’s Rally - 30th Jul 20
How to Finance an Investment Property - 30th Jul 20
I Hate Banks - Including Goldman Sachs - 29th Jul 20
NASDAQ Stock Market Double Top & Price Channels Suggest Pending Price Correction - 29th Jul 20
Silver Price Surge Leaves Naysayers in the Dust - 29th Jul 20
UK Supermarket Covid-19 Shop - Few Masks, Lack of Social Distancing (Tesco) - 29th Jul 20
Budgie Clipped Wings, How Long Before it Can Fly Again? - 29th Jul 20
How To Take Advantage Of Tesla's 400% Stock Surge - 29th Jul 20
Gold Makes Record High and Targets $6,000 in New Bull Cycle - 28th Jul 20
Gold Strong Signal For A Secular Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Anatomy of a Gold and Silver Precious Metals Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Shopify Is Seizing an $80 Billion Pot of Gold - 28th Jul 20
Stock Market Minor Correction Underway - 28th Jul 20
Why College Is Never Coming Back - 27th Jul 20
Stocks Disconnect from Economy, Gold Responds - 27th Jul 20
Silver Begins Big Upside Rally Attempt - 27th Jul 20
The Gold and Silver Markets Have Changed… What About You? - 27th Jul 20
Google, Apple And Amazon Are Leading A $30 Trillion Assault On Wall Street - 27th Jul 20
This Stock Market Indicator Reaches "Lowest Level in Nearly 20 Years" - 26th Jul 20
New Wave of Economic Stimulus Lifts Gold Price - 26th Jul 20
Stock Market Slow Grind Higher Above the Early June Stock Highs - 26th Jul 20
How High Will Silver Go? - 25th Jul 20
If You Own Gold, Look Out Below - 25th Jul 20
Crude Oil and Energy Sets Up Near Major Resistance – Breakdown Pending - 25th Jul 20
FREE Access to Premium Market Forecasts by Elliott Wave International - 25th Jul 20
The Promise of Silver as August Approaches: Accumulation and Conversation - 25th Jul 20
The Silver Bull Gateway is at Hand - 24th Jul 20
The Prospects of S&P 500 Above the Early June Highs - 24th Jul 20
How Silver Could Surpass Its All-Time High - 24th Jul 20
China Recovered in Q2. Will the Red Dragon Sink Gold? - 23rd Jul 20
UK Covid19 MOT 6 Month Extensions Still Working Late July 2020? - 23rd Jul 20
How Did the Takeaway Apps Stocks Perform During the Lockdown? - 23rd Jul 20
US Stock Market Stalls Near A Double Peak - 23rd Jul 20
Parking at Lands End Car Park Cornwall - UK Holidays 2020 - 23rd Jul 20
Translating the Gold Index Signal into Gold Target - 23rd Jul 20
Weakness in commodity prices suggests a slowing economy - 23rd Jul 20
This Stock Market Stinks - But Not Why You May Think - 22nd Jul 20
Protracted G7 Economic Contraction – or Multiyear Global Depression - 22nd Jul 20
Gold and Oil: Be Aware of the "Spike" - 22nd Jul 20
US Online Casino Demographics: Who Plays Online For Money? - 22nd Jul 20
Machine Intelligence Quantum AI Stocks Mega-Trend Forecast 2020 to 2035! - 21st Jul 20
How to benefit from the big US Infrastructure push - 21st Jul 20
Gold and gold mining stocks are entering a strong seasonal phase - 21st Jul 20
Silver Eyes Key Breakout Levels as Inflation Heats Up - 21st Jul 20
Gold During Coronavirus Recession and Beyond - 21st Jul 20
US Election 2020: ‘A Major Bear Market of Political Decency’ - 21st Jul 20
Summertime Sizzle for Gold and Silver - 21st Jul 20
Overclockers UK Custom Built PC Review - Delivery and Unboxing (3) - 21st Jul 20
Will Coronavirus Vaccines Become a Bridge to Nowhere? - 20th Jul 20
Stock Market Time for Caution?  - 20th Jul 20
ClickTrades Review - The Importance of Dynamic Analysis and Educational Tools in Online Trading - 20th Jul 20
US Housing Market Collapse Second Phase Pending - 20th Jul 20
Capitalising on the AI Mega-trend - 20th Jul 20
Getting Started with Machine Learning - 20th Jul 20
Why Moores Law is NOT Dead! - 20th Jul 20
Help the Economy by Going Outside - 19th Jul 20
Stock Market Fantasy Finance: Follow the Money - 19th Jul 20
Did the Stock Market Bubble Just Pop? - 19th Jul 20
Quick Souring of the S&P 500 Stock Market Mood - 19th Jul 20
The Six-Year Jobs Recession - 19th Jul 20
Silver Demand Exploding! - 18th Jul 20
Tesco Scraps Covid Safe One Way Arrow Supermarket Shopping System - 18th Jul 20
The Rise of Online Pawnbroking - 17th Jul 20
Gold Rallies Together With U.S. Covid-19 Cases - 17th Jul 20
Gold & Silver Measured Moves - 17th Jul 20
The Bizarre Mathematics Of How Negative Interest Rates Create Stratospheric Profits - 17th Jul 20
From a Stocks Bull Market Far, Far Away, Virus Doomsday Scenerio! - 16th Jul 20
Fiscal Cliffs and the Self-destructing Treasury - 16th Jul 20
Dow Stock Market Crash Watch - Update - 16th Jul 20
Gold & Silver Gaining on US Dollar Weakness - 16th Jul 20
How to Find the Best Stocks to Invest In - 16th Jul 20
Overclockers UK Custom Build PC Review - 2. System Build Changes Communications - 16th Jul 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

US Economy, Commodity Prices and the Trade Cycle

Economics / US Economy Apr 07, 2008 - 08:43 AM GMT

By: Gerard_Jackson

Economics The current economic situation brings to mind 1999 when worries about the state of the US economy were piling up faster than rationalisations about the country's alleged growth rate. There was less talk of a "new era" economy and more about a "correction". What was it that brought about a more subdued assessment in so many quarters? Commodity prices are the answer.


The problem with commodity prices is not their price falls but the squeezing of their price margins, the difference between costs and prices. This is an important signal to look for yet, like the Titanic's SOS, no one seemed to have been listening. It's the same old problem of not seeing the trees because of the wood. And in this instance, price margins were the trees.

We witnessed mood swings from overvalued stock to falling commodity prices and back again. First, so we were told, the former could burst and send the economy into recession; on the other hand, a continuing fall in commodity prices would tip the world into a global recession. Well, which one was it? Neither, is the answer. Falling commodity prices can no more cause a recession than falling share prices can. And yet the two are closely linked just as some clusters of mergers are. In economics, everything is connected to everything else and prices are the means by which this is accomplished.

Distort prices and you discoordinate the whole economic process. This, unfortunately, is precisely what the Fed did, and still is doing. What is equally unfortunate is that the vast majority of economic and financial commentators are totally oblivious to this fact. Loose monetary policy fuelled Clinton's stock market boom and fuelled corporate mergers while having a malign influence on commodity price margins. Commodities are inputs. As I explained in previous articles, artificially lowering the rate of interest causes over-expansion in higher stages of production.

Commodities are part and parcel of those stages, meaning that lower interest rates also raise the demand for commodities, even though their secular price trend is downward. Once the higher stages find themselves in a profits squeeze as rising costs and falling demand puts them in a financial vice, this will feed back into a reduced demand for these products which in turn reduces their price margins. This is why commodity price margins rather than commodity price trends should be followed more closely*.

But where do mergers enter the field? Two periods in American economic history throw considerable light, at least in my opinion, on "corporate mega-mergers". Readers will recall that I have referred several times to the 1920s economic "new era". But the boom of 1896 to 1903 was also very much a "new era" phenomenon. Now 1924 to1929 was characterised by considerable take-over activity, just as the 1899-1902 period was.

These "new eras" were marked by 'cheap credit' and feverish stock market activity. With ample credit available and stocks rapidly rising it becomes easier to issue abundant securities, which made it easier to buy out other companies and consolidate holdings. Once again, it is what fuels the action that counts rather than the action itself. Each era of considerable merger activity was fuelled by credit expansion.

Like the rest of the world, America is going through not a business cycle but a cycle of ignorance. The belief that the so-called business cycle is a natural and unfortunate feature of market economies is so ingrained that it is rarely questioned. For nearly 2000 years Aristotle's assertion that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects held sway over the European mind. Then one day Galileo completely demolished Aristotle by simultaneously dropping from the top of the Tower of Pizza objects of different weights.

Regrettably it is not as easy to refute the fundamental belief that the trade cycle is a sad by-product of capitalism, especially since the birth of Keynesianism. But until we do our economies will continue to undergo periodic booms and depressions. Even though the Austrian School of economics has provided an analytical refutation of Keynesianism it has yet to receive the recognition it deserves. This means that we shall continue to suffer the consequences of the public's economic ignorance.

*This does not mean that commodity prices always rise during a boom. After WW I commodity prices were depressed despite the post-war booms The reason is that the war had created an excess supply that that took years to balance out. On the other hand, current booms in China, the US, India have driven up commodity prices.

One must also consider a situation in which improved technology could keep commodity prices stable even as demand increased significantly. In the absence of a rise in demand commodity prices would have risen. We can therefore say that the difference between the boom price and the price that would have otherwise prevailed amounts to an increased prices for commodities.

By Gerard Jackson
BrookesNews.Com

Gerard Jackson is Brookes' economics editor.

Copyright © 2008 Gerard Jackson

Gerard Jackson Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules