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Recent commodity price developments : causes and effects

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  • P. Butzen

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • W. Melyn

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • H. Zimmer

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

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    Abstract

    In the past few years, constant price increases have attracted much attention to commodity markets. The nominal prices of oil and most metals reached record levels, and their real prices reached the highest level in many years. The recent price surge was due mainly to a strong increase in demand for commodities. This can be attributed to the strong economic growth of the past few years and to the integration of a substantial part of the world population into the global economy and international trade. The price increase was also partly the result of supply side developments, such as the scarcity of spare production and refining capacity. This made the oil price sensitive to every event that had a negative influence on the oil supply, such as the recurrent geopolitical tensions. In recent years, economic growth and inflation in the oil-importing countries have been fairly resistant to the sharp increase in commodity prices, largely thanks to the changes in the monetary policy framework in comparison to the seventies, structural changes in the developed countries, the effect of globalisation and the favourable economic environment. Financial markets expect oil prices to remain at high levels in the short- and medium term. Moreover, according to the International Energy Agency and other observers, high oil prices are also expected to persist in the long term. Metal prices are forecast to ease from their current high levels, mainly as a result of supply side flexibility, as extra capacity can be added quite quickly. In view of the major economic impact of oil prices and the increasing concern about the effect of energy consumption on climate change, the government has an important role in the energy debate. Over the last couple of years there have been some initiatives to establish a common European energy and climate policy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by National Bank of Belgium in its journal Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): (2007)
    Issue (Month): II (September)
    Pages: 29-45

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    Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2007:m:september:i:ii:p:29-45

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    Keywords: commodity markets; energy; metals; oil; OPEC.;

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