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From Boom to Bust: A Typology of Real Commodity Prices in the Long Run

  • David S. Jacks

This paper considers the evidence on real commodity prices over 160 years for 30 commodities representing 7.89 trillion USD worth of production in 2011. In so doing, it suggests and documents a complete typology of real commodity prices, comprising long-run trends, medium-run cycles, and short-run boom/bust episodes. The findings of the paper can be summarized as follows: real commodity prices of both energy and non-energy commodities have been on the rise from 1950 across all weighting schemes; there is a consistent pattern, in both past and present, of commodity price super-cycles which entail decades-long positive deviations from these long-run trends with the latest set of super-cycles likely at their peak; these commodity price super-cycles are punctuated by booms and busts which are historically pervasive and becoming more exacerbated over time. These last elements of boom and bust are also found to be particularly bearing in determining real commodity price volatility as well as potentially bearing in influencing growth in commodity exporting economies.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18874.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18874
Note: DAE
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  1. Enrique G. Mendoza & Marco E. Terrones, 2012. "An Anatomy of Credit Booms and their Demise," NBER Working Papers 18379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. David S. Jacks & Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2011. "Commodity Price Volatility and World Market Integration since 1700," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 800-813, August.
  3. David I. Harvey & Neil M. Kellard & Jakob B. Madsen & Mark E. Wohar, 2010. "The Prebisch-Singer Hypothesis: Four Centuries of Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 367-377, May.
  4. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working-Class in England, 1209-2004," Working Papers 539, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  5. Angus Deaton, 1999. "Commodity Prices and Growth in Africa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 23-40, Summer.
  6. Jerrett, Daniel & Cuddington, John T., 2008. "Broadening the statistical search for metal price super cycles to steel and related metals," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 188-195, December.
  7. Bilge Erten, 2012. "Super-cycles of commodity prices since the mid-ninteenth century," Working Papers 110, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
  8. Paul Cashin & C. John McCDermott, 2002. "The Long-Run Behavior of Commodity Prices: Small Trends and Big Variability," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 49(2), pages 2.
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