The writer is global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs
It is tempting to blame today’s shortages in the “old economy” — everything from energy to other basic materials, and even agriculture — on a series of temporary disruptions driven largely by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But outside of a few labour issues, these bottlenecks have little to do with Covid-19. Instead, the roots of today’s commodity crunch can be traced back to the aftermath of the financial crisis and the following decade of falling returns and chronic under-investment in the old economy.
As infrastructure aged and investment waned, so did the old economy’s ability to supply and deliver the commodities underpinning many finished goods. After years of neglect, today’s rising gas prices, copper supply shortfalls and China’s struggles with power generation are the “old economy’s revenge”.
In the economic stagnation following 2008,…