Pro Perspectives 2/4/21

February 4, 2021

Biden made his first prepared foreign policy speech this afternoon.

Remember, the Trump administration spent the better part of four years fighting China's ascent to global economic superpower.  Trump waged the trade war with China, ultimately getting concessions through a "Phase 1" deal.  A month later, a global pandemic orginated from China.  And by mid-summer, Pompeo explicitly declared the Chinese Communist Party "the greatest threat to everyone in the free world." 

So, what did the new President have to say about China today in his first historic foreign policy speech?  Almost nothing. He positioned China as a cut-throat economic competitor.  Russia is the threat to democracy as it's told by the new adminstration. 

With that, as we've discussed in my daily notes, the CCP is the big winner in the American election.  China's leadership gets to go back to the business that got them so close (pre-Trump) to becoming the global economic superpower — ramping up the global supply chain and manipulating the currency to ensure they maintain global dominance in exporting. 

But, while they have been in a position of strength economically, relative to the rest of the world, over the past 12-months, China has focused on importing.  They've been stockpiling global commodities at dirt cheap prices, just as they did in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis.

China bought record volumes of crude oil, copper, iron ore and coal in 2020.  They also imported a record amount of corn, wheat and soybeans. 

So, that's record levels of industrial metals, energy and food.

What happened to commodity prices the last time China went on a commodities binge in a global recession (a decade ago)?  Prices spiked. 

Oil went from the low $30s back to north of $100, all while the U.S. economy was still suffering. 

Copper prices went crazy. 

With the above in mind, crude oil traded above $56 today, the highest levels since last January.  And broad commodities are in the very early stages of a new bull market.  

Expect China to continue to take advantage of the opportunity to build inventory in commodities.  With that, and with the "inflating global asset price” theme we've been discussing, these prices have a long way to go (up).