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International Commodity Prices: Cycle, Bubble or Level Shift? - Part 1

Commodity prices showed a strong upward trend from the millennium rollover until the 2008 financial crisis. A sudden price drop in the wake of the crisis has been followed by a resurgence in commodity prices. This article places current commodity-market developments in a historical perspective and discusses whether the price increases of recent years are attributable to cyclical factors, a speculation-driven bubble or a structurally-based increase in relative prices. The main explanations for the recent price rises are the growing importance of commodity-intensive emerging economies, especially China, in the world economy since 2000 and the failure of oil production, in particular, to keep up with this development.