Here comes trouble

by | Jun 15, 2009

From a post here last October:

[We can expect] a reduction in commodity prices for the duration of the global downturn (however long that may be) as demand for them falls.  As I’ve mentioned, futures prices for grain crops are already falling; we can expect that trend to be supported by falling energy prices, which will reduce some of the pressure on food that’s come via fertiliser prices, transport costs and demand for crops as biofuels.

That said, let’s be clear: the fall in commodity prices due to a global downturn does not mean that we’re out of the woods for good on high food and fuel prices. As Javier Blas notes in the FT today, the downturn also means that necessary investment in increasing supply will be put off.  As soon as we’re out of the dowturn and demand starts going up again, we’ll discover that there’s been no shift in the underlying supply fundamentals – and hence that the stagflation drivers we were all worrying about until the credit crunch really began in earnest are just waiting where we left them.

Latest oil price data (Jul 08 – now, courtesy of BBC News):

Latest FAO Food Price Index:


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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