The chart above shows the Journal of Commerce Commodity Index, along with its major subcomponents. Each is indexed to 100 as of the date in late 2001 that commodity prices reached a multi-decade low. Oil and metals prices have both risen by about the same amount, whereas miscellaneous commodities (e.g., hides, rubber, tallow, plywood, red oak) have risen only modestly, and textiles have hardly risen at all. In aggregate, the commodity complex is still trading at relatively high levels compared to just over a decade ago.
Shale Boom Tested as Sub-$90 Oil Threatens U.S. Drillers By Isaac Arnsdorf Oct 8, 2014
Shale oil is expensive to extract by historical standards and only viable at high-enough prices, Ed Morse, Citigroup Inc.’s head of global commodities research in New York, said by phone Sept. 23. Oil from shale formations costs $50 to $100 a barrel to produce, compared with $10 to $25 a barrel for conventional supplies from the Middle East and North Africa, the Paris-based International Energy Agency estimates.
“There is probably something to the notion that if prices fell suddenly to $60 a barrel, the production growth would turn negative,” he said.
Beguiled By Narrative
Stories are culture’s way of teaching us what is important. They are what allow us to imagine what might happen next – and beyond – so as to prepare for it. We are hardwired to respond to story. A good story doesn’t feel like a story – it feels exactly like real life, but most decidedly is not like real life. It is simplified and otherwise altered. We prefer rhetorical grace and an emotional charge to the work of hard thought. Because we are inveterate simplifiers, we prefer clean and clear narrative to messy reality. A famous book by Karl Popper, The Poverty of Historicism, pretty well demolished the popular notion that history was a narrative, that it had a shape, a progression, and followed laws of development. But we believe that it does (or devoutly wish to believe that it does) anyway.
Still, because it feels so true (“It can’t be wrong when it feels so right”), it isn’t hyperbole to say you’ve been lost in a story. Story turns us into willing students, eager to learn the story’s message. It’s how we sift through the raw data of our lives to ascertain what matters. Our brains are designed to analyze the environment, pick out the important parts, and use those bits to extrapolate linearly and simplistically about and into the future.