Monthly Archives: January 2007

Commodity Prices Unraveling

Copper prices are down almost 30 percent from the speculative hedge fund bubble. Brass rod is just beginning to follow with scrap prices down about 10 percent from the peak.

We are in the midst of the unraveling of the commodity price squeeze which was more about avarice than scarcity. Oil is hovering around $52 a barrel for crude, which is attributed to a mild winter in the United States, but really, how many people are still burning heating oil. The reality is that the speculators who went long on petrol are on the run. If we don’t get a Shia A-bomb soon, the oil bulls will be deader than the A-Team.

For Ben Bernanke, the commodity route gives him time to plan his next move. Gasoline at $1.75 a gallon is like a tax cut or a half point rate cut for the economy. It may be enough to stabilize the housing market which is already showing a heartbeat. The stock market analysts say they look forward, but they usually are obsessed with the current quarter’s comparisons with last year. They will probably miss the likely bounce in construction. Global warming also allows builders to work virtually year-round now, all the way to Manitoba, which skews old comps.

Weak steel prices are likely to give the auto companies and their traumatized suppliers a little boost. When the metal supply gets sloshy, the dynamic shifts power to the buyers even with the reduction in primary producers.

The acceleration of stock prices in recent weeks despite the Democrats grabbing Congress, Iraq dragging on, and a lousy Wal-mart Christmas indicates that the financial mavens believe the U.S. will get the prayed-for soft landing.

Amen.

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