The best of Materials Risk 2018

Of the 29 articles published on Materials Risk this year here are the top 10 as measured by page views and engagement.

1. Probably the best podcasts on macroeconomics, markets and geopolitics

Over the past year I have become a complete and utter convert to podcasts. Tired of spending most of my day staring at a screen they are the perfect means to keep on learning but also giving your eyes a rest. I am constantly amazed at the quality of many of the podcasts out there. Sure many of them have a team of researchers providing background information but still to produce weekly podcasts of such a high standard is amazing.

2. A long term view creates opportunities for commodity investors: Interview with Mike Alkin 

I had the opportunity to talk with Mike Alkin. Mike is the founder and Chief Investment officer of Sachem Cove Partners, a hedge fund that invests solely in uranium and nuclear fuel cycle companies, a newsletter writer and someone who has spent 20+ years in the hedge fund business as an analyst, portfolio manager and partner.  In this interview you’ll learn how to manage a commodity investment over a long cycle, factors to look for when a commodity market is turning and why the uranium market is so unusual, Mike’s views on geopolitics in the uranium market, that some uranium mines also produce a valuable by-product and finally future careers in finance.

3. Soybean prices: The top 10 most important drivers

From the weather to China and from protein demand to tariffs here are the top 10 factors affecting soybean prices.

4. A growth business: Potash market shows signs of life

As you may know I’m always on the look out for commodity markets that have fallen out of favour. Ones that are hated by investors so such that any sense of fair value is so far down the list that they start to look like there is little in the way of downside risks. This brings out the potential for asymmetric returns for us as investors where the downside is limited, but the upside is potentially (but not always) very high. In this article I highlight the potential upside for potash.

5. Positioning analysis in commodity markets: An interview with Mark Keenan

I had the opportunity to talk with Mark Keenan, Global Commodities Strategist & Head of Research Asia-Pacific at Société Générale. In this interview you will learn why it’s important to be aware of the objectives of all market participants in commodity markets and why using methods like positioning analysis offer very good insights into whose doing what, and what happens when they do too much of it and how much positioning then relates to other factors like price, curve structure and fundamentals.

6. Electric dreams: If you thought predicting oil prices was tricky, try cobalt or lithium

Implicit in any forecast of commodity prices is an assumption of how technology could evolve and how its adoption will affect commodity prices. Commodity prices provide the incentive for new technology, yet also influence commodity production and consumption. Innovations, once introduced, may lead to higher yields from agriculture, more oil being extracted from offshore wells and deeper mines to extract more metals and minerals – all of which could eventually lead to rising commodity supplies.

7. Platinum prices: The top 10 most important drivers

From the vehicle demand to emissions tests and from recycling to investment demand here are the top 10 factors affecting the price of platinum.

8. Buy the rumour: Wheat prices spike on Ukraine export ban social media post

Wheat futures spiked by almost 5% in August after comments from the Ukrainian deputy agriculture minister on Facebook of “export limits for wheat” were misinterpreted as an imminent export ban.

9. Shining a light on extractive industries: An interview with Åsa Borssén from Raw Talks

I recently had a chance to talk to Åsa Borssén from Raw Talks. In this interview you will learn more about why governments struggle so much with managing resources and what steps they are making to change things for the future. We also talk about what investors in resource companies should think about when allocating their capital to resource dependent countries, both now and in the future.

10. El Niño looks imminent – here’s what that means for commodity markets

First observed in the 19th century by Peruvian fishermen, the recurring weather phenomenon is known to affect Australasia as well South America. Its climatic effects can reach as far as West Africa triggering downpours or droughts. Previous episodes have had a significant impact on crop yields and the price of agricultural commodities as well as metal and energy prices.

More interesting things you might have missed.

  • I publish a fortnightly newsletter that includes links to the best research I’ve seen freely available on the internet. Mostly commodity related but lots of macroeconomics.
  • Check out my list of recommended books.
  • If you haven’t read them yet I’d encourage you to buy my books – Commodities: 50 Things You Really Need To Know and Crude Forecasts, Predictions, Pundits & Profits In The Commodity Casino.
  • I published a short email course on commodities on GoHighbrow.

Thank you

I really appreciate your support over the past twelve months. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with some great people through writing for Materials Risk. I hope to do more of the same in 2019.

Until then, happy New Year.


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