As a consequence of the cycle of growth in the international price of commodities, which began in 2003 and started to show signs of coming to an end during the last global financial crisis (2008-2009), commodities and the countries producing and exporting them became a central topic. Energy commodities, together with soy and certain minerals, evidenced the highest price increases in most of the decade from 2003 to 2013. Oil offers a clear example of this, with an accumulated increase of 260%, in addition to natural gas (122%), carbon (162%), gold (288%) andcopper (312%).
Most of the cycle is explained by the pressure exerted given the growth in the main emerging economies on the international demand for supplies. This growth has been a driver of the prices of most commodities exchanged in international markets, as revealed by the statistics on variations in the prices of oil, gas and coal, as well those related to imports made by these countries. In the case of China (maybe the most strikingcase), statistics indicate the existence of a high (positive)correlation, evidenced by the harmonic motion of variables throughout the period at issue (see Figure 1),which must be construed as the significant effect of this country and its imports on the price of commodities.
However, the growth rates of the Asian giant have slowed down lately, from an annual average rate of 10% between 2000 and 2009 to a rate of 8% during the 5-year period 2010-2014. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the projected growth for this country will not be higher than 7% annually, on the average, from now to 2020.
The slowdown in the economic growth of the Asian giant and the remaining emerging economies has produced an inverse effect on the prices of the main commodities compared to what propelled them since 2003, resulting in a gradual oversupply and producingan impact on the status quo and the future expectations of both businessmen and investors.
It is clear that in this new context, both as from 2003,when the cycle of growth in the international prices began, and presently, when prices have reduced, Argentina has played a central role.