Commodity prices likely to be hit by slowdown before end of 2023
rices for a wide range of commodities have climbed to their highest level for seven years or more as drillers, miners and farmers struggle to keep up with booming demand as the economy recovers from the pandemic.
Energy prices are at the highest level since 2014 while non-energy prices are the strongest since 2011, according to the World Bank (“Commodity prices – pink sheet data”, Jan. 5).
Commodity prices have always been cyclical and recent increases will almost certainly create conditions for the next downturn, as they have in the past.
In theory, price escalation could be reversed by faster growth in production, slower growth in consumption, or some combination of the two.
In practice, the most likely trigger is a slowdown in the global manufacturing cycle which causes commodity consumption growth to slow.
There are already signs the manufacturing cycle has passed an inflection point, with rapid growth in the wake of the pandemic and lockdowns giving way to moderate growth rates by the fourth quarter of 2021.
Business surveys, industrial production estimates and freight movements all indicate the rate of expansion slowed in the second half of last year in North America, Europe and Asia.
Global manufacturing is likely to experience a significant mid-cycle slowdown if not an end-of-cycle recession by the middle of 2023.
Rising commodity prices, energy shortages, capacity constraints in manufacturing, errors in demand forecasting and rising interest rates are themselves all potential triggers.