Economics Working Papers

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What caused the mid-2000s world commodity price “bubble” and the recent commodity price growth during the economic recovery after the 2007-2009 recession? The classical “supply and demand” interpretation offered by some observers suggests that rapid global industrial growth over the past decade – the so-called “demand channel” – is the key driver of price growth. Others have argued that recent bouts of commodity price growth were directly related to central banks, especially the U.S. Federal Reserve, injecting too much money or “liquidity” into the financial system. They assert that high commodity prices are a result of excessively loose monetary policy.

This paper extends the current research in this area by incorporating emerging economies, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) nations specifically, into global measures. It is hypothesized that factoring BRIC nations into the analysis provides useful information for examining the relationship between commodity prices and global liquidity that is not captured by advanced country data alone.

The statistical model in this paper accounts for the two-way relationships that can exist between output, price, and monetary variables in a globally interconnected system. Various tests of the model consistently suggest that the “demand channel” plays a large part in explaining commodity price growth whether BRIC countries are included or excluded from the analysis. However, excess liquidity may also play a part in explaining price growth. In addition, factoring in BRIC country data leads to the conclusion that unexpected movements in liquidity eventually explain more of the variation in commodity prices than unexpected demand shocks. This specific result is not caught in the sample that only incorporates advanced economies. Therefore, policymakers and researchers should not ignore emerging markets when examining commodity prices and monetary factors in a global context. Studies that exclude these countries lose key information on the effects of global monetary fluctuations.

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