Skip to main content

Caution on commodities

I read an interesting piece by John Authers over the weekend, in which the Financial Times columnist urged investors to familiarize themselves with the basics of the commodity markets before jumping in.

Since the start of this decade, performance in a wide range of individual commodities has been hot, prompting many new investors and funds to jump on the resource bull market bandwagon.

Authers reminds prospective investors that there are factors which distinguish the commodities market from other investments long familiar to most professional investors (equities, bonds), and that each individual commodity bears its own unique fundamentals and behavioral patterns.

Take it, John:

The first rule of journalism, some say, is: "Never be afraid to admit ignorance."

In that spirit, I will admit that I took over this column without the faintest idea why aluminium prices might behave differently from nickel, or why corn prices diverge from wheat. I am not embarrassed by this. The world of commodities is huge and complex, governed by the peculiarities of demand and supply in particular markets across the world. Little or nothing you learn covering mainstream financial markets, such as equities and bonds, much helps you when you are looking at a report on copper supply.

What I do know is that the past few years have seen an explosion of interest in commodities, not only from hedge funds but also from mainstream big institutions. That was prompted by the prolonged rally in basic commodity prices that started earlier this decade. The entry of new investors helped push the market still further. But my fear, confirmed at least by anecdotal evidence, is that many of these new investors share my ignorance of commodities.

You can read the entire piece here, "Go back to basics before you buy commodities".

For more info on two very important themes stressed in John's article, the increased correlation of stock and commodity returns and the "non homogeneity" of individual commodities, see, "Double down on commodities?" and, "Stocks and commodities positively correlated".

Popular posts from this blog

The Dot-Com Bubble in 1 Chart: InfoSpace

With all the recent talk of a new bubble in the making, thanks in part to the Yellen Fed's continued easy money stance, I thought it'd be instructive to revisit our previous stock market bubble - in one quick chart.

So here's what a real stock market bubble looks like. 

Here's what a bubble *really* looks like. InfoSpace in 1999-2001. $QQQ$BCORpic.twitter.com/xjsMk433H7
— David Shvartsman (@FinanceTrends) February 24, 2015
For those of you who are a little too young to recall it, this is a chart of InfoSpace at the height of the Nasdaq dot-com bubble in 1999-2001. This fallen angel soared to fantastic heights only to plummet back down to earth as the bubble, and InfoSpace's shady business plan, turned to rubble.

As detailed in our post, "Round trip stocks: Momentum booms and busts", InfoSpace rocketed from under $100 a share to over $1,300 a share in less than six months. 

In a pattern common to many parabolic shooting stars, the stock soon peaked and began a…

New! Finance Trends now at FinanceTrendsLetter.com

Update for our readers: Finance Trends has a new URL! 

Please bookmark our new web address at Financetrendsletter.com

Readers sticking with RSS updates should point your feed readers to our new Finance Trends feedburner.  



Thank you to all of our loyal readers who have been with us since the early days. Exciting stuff to come in the weeks ahead!

As a quick reminder, you can subscribe to our free email list to receive the Finance Trends Newsletter. You'll receive email updates about once every 4-8 weeks (about 2-3 times per quarter). 

Stay up to date with our real-time insights and updates on Twitter.

Moneyball: How the Red Sox Win Championships

Welcome, readers. To get the first look at brand new posts (like the following piece) and to receive our exclusive email list updates, please subscribe to the Finance Trends Newsletter.

The Boston Red Sox won their fourth World Series titleof the 21st century this week.

Having won their first Series in 86 years back in 2004, the last decade-plus has marked a very strong return to form for one of baseball's oldest big league clubs. So how did they do it?

Quick background: in late 2002, team owner and hedge fund manager,John W. Henry(with his partners)bought the Boston Red Sox and its historic Fenway Park for a reported sum of $695 million.

Henry and Co. quickly set out to find their ideal General Manager (GM) to help turn around their newly acquired, ailing ship.

This brings us to one of my favorite scenes from the 2011 film, Moneyball, in which John W. Henry (played by Arliss Howard) attempts to woo Oakland A's GM Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) over to Boston with an excellent job off…