Ed Lotterman: What causes volatility in commodity prices? | Ed Lotteman


Not at all. Yes, the prices of all kinds of inputs are up sharply compared to 12 months ago. But it was a low point for our nation and the world, sliding into a recession caused by COVID. If you look at long term price patterns, you get a better picture.

Take the last 15 years – from 2006 – the last before the global bubbles in US commodities and financial derivatives burst. As a benchmark, the general consumer price index increased 38% over this period.

Start with gasoline, which is a big part of most household budgets. Since May 2006, the highest weekly average was $ 4.76, the lowest $ 1.98 and the average $ 3.13. Nationally, we are a dime above that now. The Midwest, as usual, is below the national average.

Corn is the key to the economy of many Midwestern households, whether in production, transportation or processing. In world trade, the price of corn in March was $ 4.97 a bushel and was on the rise. The highest over the 15-year period was $ 8.46, the low $ 3.28 and the average $ 4.96. For global soybean trade, they were $ 10.72, $ 5.63 and $ 16.76, up from $ 13.90 in March 2021.

In iron ore, we are at the high end. The low of $ 33 per metric tonne was in 2006. The high of $ 187 was in 2011, when taconite pellets from Minnesota and Michigan were shipped by train to Prince Rupert, B.C., an expensive proposition. to be shipped to China. The 15-year average was $ 92.


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