For The Love of Commodities

I love commodities.

I love commodities for the simple reason that the “fundamentals” present such a simple story, and an excellent backdrop in forming  longer term trading plans. We humans (much like a given species of insect or household pest) are devouring our planet’s resources at breakneck speed and reproducing like flies. We’ve already crunched the numbers on “how much of this is left” and “how much of that”  – fully aware that the numbers don’t look good.

Simply put – as we continue to multiply and continue to consume (at ever higher rates)  we are going to run out of stuff. Then throw in the extreme changes in weather (likely brought on by our own doing) and you’ve got one hell of an equation for supply and demand. The depleting availability of commodities alone is one thing, coupled with massive population growth and you get the picture.

So… commodities and you will be rich. If only it where that easy. Looking at the $CRB (Commodities Index) we can see the turn has more or less just been confirmed.

The $CRB is now clearly making higher highs and higher lows.

The $CRB is now clearly making higher highs and higher lows.

As I trade currency this generally translates into a lower USD (as commods are priced in dollars) and likely advances made in commodity related currencies such as AUD, NZD and CAD. Others may choose to play it through stocks, futures etc

Regardless – looking at this longer term, and considering the fundamentals behind it – its difficult to envision the price of “stuff” to be going anywhere but up. Way up.


Why Is The $CRB Important?

The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index (TR/J CRB) (thank you wikipedia) –  is a commodity price index. It was first calculated by Commodity Research Bureau, Inc. in 1957 and made its inaugural appearance in the 1958 CRB Commodity Year Book.

The Index was originally composed of 28 commodities, however there has been a continuous adjustment of the individual components used in calculating the Index since the original 28 were chosen in 1957. All of these changes have been part of the continuing effort of Thomson Reuters to ensure that its value provides accurate representation of broad commodity price trends.

The index comprises 19 commodities: Aluminum, Cocoa, Coffee, Copper, Corn, Cotton, Crude Oil, Gold, Heating Oil, Lean Hogs, Live Cattle, Natural Gas, Nickel, Orange Juice, Silver, Soybeans, Sugar, Unleaded Gas and Wheat.

Generally commodity prices move opposite to bond prices. This is because inflation causes commodities to increase in price while devaluating the price of bonds. This is one of the reasons that the CRB is so closely watched by both bond and commodity traders. – AND BY KONG.

When you step back from the day to day “mindfield” of the SP 500 – it gets much easier to see what is “really going on” and you can trade with a greater sense of confidence. If somone asked me today “Hey Kong – do you think the price of things (commodities) on this planet are getting cheaper here moving forward? or more expensive?”

I’d have to be careful not to punch them in the face.

Watch the $CRB – It “IS” Important.

A Traders Edge – Look To The Bigger Picture

This came up in the comments area and I wanted to post this for everyone – as I believe  it to be an important point.

I see “risk on” for commodities from a couple different angles – and yes… times it is difficult (especially these days) to discern which direction things are headed with so much information, and so much of it conflicting.

  • From a purely fundamental view – world populations are growing, and resources are diminishing (things we all need/use are getting harder to find) = commodities up
  • The simple fact that as the world’s current reserve currency (the U.S dollar) is firmly being targeted for devaluation, the cost of these “things we need” should rise – as they are priced in U.S dollars. Dollar worth less = commodities up
  • From a currency point of view – long term trends in AUD and NZD (like..a weekly chart at least) are clearly in very well defined up trends despite recent volatility and the daily action. Commod currencies up = commodities up

Zooming out to a larger picture often helps frame shorter term trade decisions (or at least provides a solid background) when the day to day volatility gets difficult to handle. The “edge” can be found here – in having the confidence in your decisions, knowing you are trading in the right direction from a larger point of view – and not letting the “daily squiggles” bump you out of your trade.

A quick chart of the  “$CRB Commodities Index”  and the likely direction of “all things commodity” coming soon to a theatre near you.

The Commodities Index  - $CRB

Commodities set to move higher