Ricardo Fernholz, Kris Mitchener, Marc Weidenmier, 18 May 2017

There has been speculation that the dollar may soon be displaced by the euro or renminbi as the primary international currency. This column examines the demise of silver-based monetary standards in the 19th century to explore price dynamics when a money ceases to function as a global unit of account. According to new data on the historical prices of agricultural commodities, silver ceased functioning as a global price anchor in the mid-1890s. Over the same period, the volatility of agricultural commodity prices also declined.

Maurice Obstfeld, 17 October 2015

In this column, the IMF's new Economic Counsellor and Director of Research presents the latest World Economic Outlook, which shows how the world economy is at the intersection of at least three powerful forces. First is China’s economic transformation away from export- and investment-led growth and manufacturing, in favour of a greater focus on consumption and services; second is the fall in commodity prices; and third is the impending normalisation of monetary policy in the US.

Andrew Powell, 28 April 2015

Commodity prices are very persistent. A boom is always followed by a bust, and after a slump, a boom comes along. This column reviews some basic aspects of commodity theory and their role in the last boom. Finally, it presents arguments stating that lower commodity prices are here to stay for a while. We may have to wait many years for the next boom to come along.

Sascha Bützer, Maurizio Habib, Livio Stracca, 07 March 2015

The large dip in oil prices reverberated across asset markets, contributing to the depreciation of the Russian rouble. This column argues that the recent fall of the rouble may be more an exception than the norm. Oil shocks have only a limited impact on global exchange rate configurations, since oil exporters tend to lean against exchange rate pressures by running down or accumulating foreign exchange reserves.

Plamen Iossifov, Jiří Podpiera, 16 February 2015

The ongoing, synchronised disinflation across Europe raises the question of whether non-Eurozone EU countries are affected by the undershooting of the Eurozone inflation target, by other global factors, or by synchronised domestic, real sector developments. This column argues that falling world food and energy prices have been the main disinflationary driver. However, countries with more rigid exchange-rate regimes and/or higher shares of foreign value added in domestic demand have also been affected by disinflationary spillovers from the Eurozone.

Jeffrey Frankel, 24 December 2014

Commodity prices have been falling in the US. This column argues that monetary policy has played a determining role in the falling prices trend. Monetary tightening is highly anticipated in the US, which is likely to raise short-term interest rates. At the same time, the ECB and Bank of Japan have enhanced monetary stimulus through quantitative easing. As a result, the dollar has appreciated against the euro and the yen. In this way, commodities can be down in terms of dollars and up in terms of other currencies.

Rachel Griffith, 26 May 2014

Diet-related chronic diseases are a major public health concern. Addressing this concern is a key government policy objective. This Vox Talk argues that the impact of these policies on diet and health outcomes depends on how consumers adapt their consumption behaviour and on how firms respond in terms of the prices they set and the foods they offer.

Christiane Baumeister, Lutz Kilian, 30 November 2013

Recently, there has been great concern among policymakers worldwide about rising food prices and increased food-price volatility. It is widely believed that oil and food prices have become closely linked after 2006, owing in part to a shift in US biofuel policies. This column presents evidence that challenges this conventional wisdom.

David Jacks, 16 August 2013

The global economy witnesses protracted and widespread commodity booms once in a generation. This column introduces a new and publicly available dataset on real commodity prices over 164 years for 32 commodities. The evidence suggests that policymakers and researchers should, first of all, not confuse cycles for trends in real commodity prices. Second, we should also be more aware of the fact that we live in a world of scarcity. Commodity-specific differences in supply and demand generate differential paths in real commodity prices not only in the past but, presumably, also in the future.

Lúcio Vinhas de Souza, 07 February 2013

Commodity price shocks are frequently considered among the most important potential threats to the global economy. However, since the second half of the 1980s, energy prices have experienced very large changes, with arguably limited effects on global GDP developments. This column presents evidence that oil shocks just aren’t what they used to be when it comes to macroeconomic effects.

Lutz Kilian, 21 April 2012

Was the surge in the oil prices between 2003 and 2008 caused by financial investors taking speculative positions in oil futures markets? Many pundits and policymakers seem to think so, but this column says this view goes against the extensive body of evidence.

Simon Evenett, Frédéric Jenny, 15 February 2012

After several decades of quiescence, global commodity prices almost doubled in 2008 and, after a brief fall, rose again in 2011. The papers in this new CEPR eReport aim to identify and assess the importance of the factors responsible for the recent increases in the levels and volatility of commodity prices.

Ekaterina Vostroknutova, Milan Brahmbhatt, Otaviano Canuto, 21 June 2010

The recent boom in primary commodity prices has once more stimulated interest in the issue of “Dutch Disease” – the changes in a country’s structure of production expected after a favourable shock such as a large natural resource discovery. This column examines the implications for welfare and some policy options for resource-rich countries.

Nikola Spatafora, Irina Tytell, 24 March 2010

How do commodity-price booms affect the economic performance of commodity exporters? This column presents comprehensive new data on country-specific commodity terms of trade. It finds that, on average, countries grow nearly 2 percentage points faster during booms than during busts. But policy plays an important role – sharp currency appreciations and large government deficits are associated with lower growth.

Torsten Persson, 19 September 2008

At the annual congress of the European Economic Association and the Econometric Society in Milan in August 2008, Torsten Persson, director of the Institute for International Economic Studies in Stockholm, delivered his Econometric Society presidential address on ‘State Capacity, Conflict and Development’ Afterwards, he spoke to Romesh Vaitilingam.about his research on these issues, preliminary findings of which suggest that rising commodity prices increase the chances of civil war breaking out in poor countries.

Kenneth Rogoff, Barbara Rossi , Yu-chin Chen, 08 September 2008

In a recent speech, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke highlighted the difficulty of obtaining a meaningful gauge for future commodity price movement, noting the inadequacy of forecasts based on commodity futures signals. Looking at exchange rates may be a promising alternative.

Joseph Francois, 01 August 2008

The WTO talks were as much a distraction as an opportunity. The agenda was aimed at a world that no longer exists. Negotiations of some form should and will resume: the questions are "where?" and "between whom?" Success will require a different game, with different rules and different players. This column considers the options.

Jeffrey Frankel, 29 July 2008

In CEPR Policy Insight No. 25, Jeffrey Frankel discusses the merits of a peg to the export price for countries specialized in the production of a mineral or agricultural commodity.

The Editors, 29 July 2008

This column introduces Jeffrey Frankel’s Policy Insight No. 25 explaining his proposal for countries to peg their currencies to their export prices. Such a peg adjusts to trade shocks and serves as a nominal anchor, so it may outperform current exchange rate regimes.

Guillermo Calvo, 20 June 2008

Here, one of the world’s leading macroeconomists argues that the explosion of commodity prices is the result of a very real global financial storm associated with excess liquidity in several non-G7 countries and nourished by the low interest rates set by G7 central banks. The commodity price explosion is a harbinger of future inflation.

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