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f you are too young to have been alive during the 1970s, you might want to read up on that decade, because current economic conditions are starting to become eerily similar to what we experienced back then. In the 1970s, an energy crisis caused tremendously long lines at gas stations all over the country. In 2021, we don’t have a shortage of gasoline, but shortages of other key products are starting to cause very serious problems. In fact, as you will see below, even the Biden administration is publicly admitting that there will be “supply chain disruptions” in the months ahead. The 1970s also featured extremely painful inflation, and I certainly don’t need to tell you that prices have been rising very aggressively lately. In fact, Bloomberg is using the term “skyrocketing” to describe the “upward trajectory” of commodity prices…
The prices of raw materials used to make almost everything are skyrocketing, and the upward trajectory looks set to continue as the world economy roars back to life.
From steel and copper to corn and lumber, commodities started 2021 with a bang, surging to levels not seen for years. The rally threatens to raise the cost of goods from the lunchtime sandwich to gleaming skyscrapers. It’s also lit the fuse on the massive reflation trade that’s gripped markets this year and pushed up inflation expectations. With the U.S. economy pumped up on fiscal stimulus, and Europe’s economy starting to reopen as its vaccination rollout gets into gear, there’s little reason to expect a change in direction.
Over the past year, the Federal Reserve has pumped more money into the financial system than ever before, and the U.S. government has been on a wild spending spree that makes Zimbabwe look fiscally conservative.
It was inevitable that this was going to cause rampant inflation, but the numbers that we are starting to see are so crazy they are difficult to believe. A couple weeks ago, Charlie Bilello posted a summary of how commodity prices have changed over the past year…
WTI Crude: +210%
Brent Crude +163%
Heating Oil: +107%
Natural Gas: +43%