The Commodity Investor: Not The Time For Investors To Panic Over China & Commodities

April 24, 2013

After a decade of climbing prices, commodity bulls should be relieved to see stabilization.


In the late 1990s, as the dot-com bubble burst and once-high-flying tech stocks came crashing back down to Earth, another important global macroeconomic event was taking place across the globe that would have far-reaching implications for the world economy for years to come: the rise of China as an economic superpower.

While the two events aren’t necessarily correlated, the latter has had a major impact on global economic output, with a specific effect on commodities.

It is not a stretch to claim that China may now be the most important global driver in the commodities markets. For instance, China now accounts for more than 30 percent of consumption in key base metals such as iron ore and copper. China is on track to import more crude oil than the United States next year, a fact that would have been quite unthinkable in the late 1990s. And China is the largest purchaser of many soft commodities, such as soybeans and corn.

Many countries have depended heavily on the Chinese consumer market for these raw materials, which has helped countries in the Persian Gulf, Latin America and Africa to ship gargantuan amounts of raw materials to the Asian nation. In the process, many governments in these countries ran up huge trade surpluses and many businessmen generated lots of value by taking advantage of this unique trade wave.

Troubles In China?

As the saying goes, whatever goes up must come down, and China has been on an uptrend year in and year out for over a decade. As many countries were relying on Chinese growth above double digits, when that growth is removed, a lot of people start feeling the pain. The weakness we’re seeing right now in the commodities markets across the board can be traced back in some form to the decline in Chinese economic activity.

China is expected to grow 7.7 percent this quarter, well below the double digits of a few years ago, and also below the 7.9 percent from this quarter. While any country would be envious of enjoying growth in the high single digits, those numbers are so ingrained in economic models that even a slight miss will have a devastating impact on industries relying on that growth—and this also includes commodities.



Interested in China? Use our China ETFs Channel, library, and ETF screener.

Interested in oil? Use our oil ETFs channel, library and ETF screener!


The oil and gas ETF saw net inflows of $135 million on Wednesday, April 27.

The top five issuers all saw net inflows into their exchange-traded products on Wednesday, April 27.


By Drew Voros

With the broad equity ideas all taken, issuers look for thinner slices of exposure.

By David Lichtblau

How funds wash away capital gains through create/redeem process.

By Dave Nadig

End investors are the big winners; brokers—not so much.

By Dave Nadig

ETF industry petitions the SEC for market microstructure changes.


By Adam Patti

After a record-setting year in 2015, investors wonder what 2016 will hold.

By Sprott Asset Management

New fund’s underlying index targets equities sentiment on social media.

By Kristi Kuechler

Avoid taking unrewarded—or unintended—risks.