The banking crisis, with the demise of SVB, then Credit Suisse, disrupted capital markets to exhaustive levels. Over the last week and a half, capital markets were down due to a slump in bank stocks. Stocks and bonds were all down. But what about commodities? How have commodities markets been handling this financial turmoil from the banking sector? In early 2022, commodity markets greatly suffered because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The price of oil, gas, and agricultural commodities declined to a significant extent. However, in the second half of 2022, commodity markets started to rise again. The biggest commodity traders reaped bumper profits in 2022, driven by extreme volatility in energy markets, including a tenfold increase in European gas prices after Russia cut supplies to Europe following Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The banking sector turmoil that has spilled into energy and metal markets is likely to be limited in duration with only minimal damage to the wider economy. Commodity traders are confident that the impact of the banking sector turmoil will be contained with the fundamentals reasserting themselves once the immediate panic passed. Oil prices rose about 1% to a one-week high on Wednesday despite a surprise weekly build in U.S. crude inventories, as the dollar slid to a six-week low ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates which could affect the fuel demand outlook. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) asserted that crude stockpiles rose 1.1 million barrels during the week ended March 17. U.S. crude stockpiles have grown during 12 of the past 13 weeks, boosting inventories to their highest since May 2021.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
The oil and gas markets aren’t the only commodity markets doing well in this banking turmoil.
Agricultural commodity markets seem to also be unaffected by the turmoil. This is fundamental because the price of agricultural commodities is inelastic. In microeconomics classes, we learn the concept of price elasticity or the elasticity of demand. The elasticity of demand refers to the degree to which demand responds to a change in an economic sector. Demand is considered inelastic if demand for a good or service remains unchanged even when the price changes. This concept has held true over time for agricultural commodities. Demand for agricultural commodities remains high in general because food is a necessity for human sustenance. Hence, the agricultural sector generally encounters less volatility than the oil market and this is virtually impossible to see the price of agricultural commodities completely decline No matter how much the banking system is affected.
Of course, it is important to reiterate that the price of commodities is not shielded from inflation. The price fluctuates. Thus, the resulting increase in farm cash receipts and limited supply of farmland available for sale led to increases in farmland value. In the current economic state, real estate prices have been taking a hit thanks to rising interest rates, but that has not been the case for farmland as revenue generation has been strong amid rising consumer prices.