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Impacts and implications of Covid-19 on commodity markets: a scenario analysis

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Benjamin Jones
Managing Consultant at CRU Group
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Benjamin Jones
Managing Consultant at CRU Group

Ben Jones is a Managing Consultant at CRU Group, an internationally leading consultancy specialising in mining, metals and fertiliser industries Ben has lead numerous analyses into macroeconomic, strategic and public policy issues affecting the commodities markets and the financial performance of key industry players. Prior to joining CRU, Ben was an economist at BG Group responsible for energy market analysis and upstream investment decisions. He has previously worked at the International Monetary Fund and UK Treasury on macroeconomic, fiscal and commodities related (as well as more general macroeconomic and fiscal) policy and research. Ben has an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Economics from the University of Birmingham. He has published widely on economic, policy and commodity related topics in leading international journals.

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Covid-19 pandemic has spread to 200+ countries and territories causing over 4.1 million infections globally and over 280,000 deaths. While events are still rapidly evolving, it is already clear that this pandemic, and associated policy reactions, has weakened demand (particularly in transportation, leisure, retail, investment goods & consumer durables goods), had profound impacts on capital markets, and is inducing behavioural responses as both consumers and producers adapt their working practices and technologies to the emerging economic and policy environment.

The implications for commodity markets have been profound, but heterogeneous: at time of writing, oil prices have collapsed by 50-60 percent, base metals prices such as copper or aluminium have fallen 15-30 percent, while iron ore prices have remained broadly firm (and some minor metals, such as Tungsten, have even increased in value related to pre crisis levels). However, analysis to date has been heavily focussed on tracking the rapid evolution of events, and robust forward looking evaluations of the impacts of the crisis on these industries are not widely available.

This paper seeks to analyse the potential market implications of the Covid-19 crisis. This is undertaken through the development and evaluation of 2-3 robust and internally consistent scenarios into which the metals industry could evolve, drawing on CRU’s in depth data and industry expertise. These will be evaluated using an integrated top-down and bottom up applied analytical framework, parameterised against available data and observations from both current and past crises, to provide guidance on some future industry outcomes and strategic choices.

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