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Economy in Brief

Commodities, Shipping Costs, Inflation and Yields
by Andrew Cates  April 6, 2022

Supply chain bottlenecks, disrupted trade flows and commodity price tension have been key hallmarks of the macroeconomic scene for some months now. But are these factors now moving into reverse? High frequency indicators of shipping costs – such as the Baltic Dry Index – certainly suggest this may be the case (see figure above).

This index has enjoyed a fairly tight correlation with indicators of real economic activity in commodity markets in recent years. And unsurprisingly it has equally enjoyed a tight correlation with global inflation surprises. Indeed its steep decline over the last six months presages a period in coming weeks where inflation outcomes could elicit far fewer positive surprises and even a few negative surprises.

This, in turn, could clearly be of some importance for policymakers and interest rate expectations in the period ahead. Indeed a relationship that may be worth watching closely against this backdrop is the evolution of activity in commodity markets and US Treasury yields (see final figure below).

Viewpoint commentaries are the opinions of the author and do not reflect the views of Haver Analytics.

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