The long-term implications of the 2007–08 commodity-price boom

The recent commodity-price boom was one of the longest and broadest of the post-World War II period, and, not unexpectedly, it reignited discussions about resource scarcity as well as proposals to ‘manage’ reminiscent of the 1970s. This contribution looks at the factors that are likely to shape commodity markets in the longer term and concludes that a stronger link between energy and non-energy commodity prices is likely to be the dominant force, especially in terms of food prices. Demand by emerging economies is unlikely to put additional pressure on the prices of food commodities, although it may create such pressure indirectly through energy prices. The effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as great as originally thought, but the use of commodities by investment funds may have been partly responsible for the 2007–08 spike.