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The Real Real Price of Nonrenewable Resources: Copper 1870-2000

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Author Info

  • Svedberg, Peter

    ()
    (Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University)

  • Tilton, John

    ()
    (Colorado School of Mines)

Abstract

Over the past 40 years economists have devoted considerable effort to estimating long-run trends in real commodity prices. The results indicate that the real prices for many commodities have fallen, suggesting to the surprise of many that resource scarcity is declining over time. Almost all of this work, however, uses the U.S. producer price index or other standard price deflators, which recent research shows overestimate inflation for several reasons. This article examines copper prices with adjusted deflators designed to eliminate this bias. It finds that the trend over time, which is significantly downward when no adjustment is made to the deflator, displays no tendency in either direction or is significantly upward depending on the magnitude of the deflator adjustment employed. These findings suggest that real resource prices provide less support than widely assumed for the hypothesis that resources are becoming more available or less scarce over time.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies in its series Seminar Papers with number 723.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 17 Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iiessp:0723

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Postal: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46-8-162000
Fax: +46-8-161443
Web page: http://www.iies.su.se/
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Keywords: resources; copper; real price; inflation bias; scarcity;

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  1. Michael J. Boskin, 2000. "Economic Measurement: Progress and Challenges," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 247-252, May.
  2. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2001. "Quantifying Quality Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1006-1030, September.
  3. Michael J. Boskin, 1998. "Consumer Prices, the Consumer Price Index, and the Cost of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
  4. Boskin, Michael J, et al, 1997. "The CPI Commission: Findings and Recommendations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 78-83, May.
  5. Katharine G. Abraham & John S. Greenlees & Brent R. Moulton, 1998. "Working to Improve the Consumer Price Index," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 27-36, Winter.
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Cited by:
  1. López, Ramón & Miller, Sebastian J., 2008. "Chile: The Unbearable Burden of Inequality," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2679-2695, December.
  2. John E. Tilton, 2012. "The Terms Of Trade Debate and the Policy Implications for Primary Product Producers," Working Papers 2012-11, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
  3. Kushnir, Duncan & Sandén, Björn A., 2012. "The time dimension and lithium resource constraints for electric vehicles," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 93-103.
  4. Fernandez, Viviana, 2012. "Trends in real commodity prices: How real is real?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 30-47.

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