JPM Natural Resources Fund manager Neil Gregson is confident that a "third great [commodities] supercycle is underway."
The basic idea is that the emerging world still has a lot of commodity intensive growth ahead.
Countries like India and China have closed the gap considerably between themselves and the developed world over the past generation. Despite recent slowdowns in emerging market growth, this catch up process, according to Gregson, will last at least until 2030.
Urbanisation in India is projected to double over the next 15 years. If this happens, a total of 590 million Indians would be city dwellers by 2030.
Gregson says that in order to accommodate this rural exodus, "India would have to build between 700 million and 900 million square metres of residential and commercial space and around 350-400km of subway every single year – 20 times the rate seen over the past decade."
Forecasts by Scotiabank commodity market specialist Patricia Mohr support Gregson's claim, at least for the near future. Mohr lists a number a market factors that will support a general upward trend in base metal and agricultural commodities prices over the next two years:
- Increased momentum in global economic growth in the second half of 2013.
- Massive infrastructure investment, particularly in China. China is also on track to meet its ambitious public housing construction targets.
- China's shift towards greater domestic consumption, in particular of motor vehicles.
- Restocking of raw materials after widespread liquidation and deferred orders in 2012.
- Strong oil prices underpinned by geopolitical risk in the Middle East and maintenance of North Sea oil.
- Lumber and panel board rallies on the back of a nascent US housing recovery (especially with tight supply of building materials in Canada and the US).
- Historically high grain and oil seed prices as a result of droughts in the US Midwest and in parts of Russia.
- Mining project delays that are tightening supply.
Source: Patricia Mohr, Vice-President, Economics & Commodity Market Specialist at Scotiabank (Powerpoint presentation from the 2013 AMEBC Roundup conference in Vancouver, Canada).