Charted: Commodities vs Equity Valuations (1970–2023)
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Charted: Commodities vs Equity Valuations (1970–2023)
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In recent years, commodity prices have reached a 50-year low relative to overall equity markets (S&P 500). Historically, lows in the ratio of commodities to equities have corresponded with the beginning of new commodity supercycles.
The infographic above uses data from Incrementum AG and Crescat Capital LLC to show the relationship between commodities and U.S. equities over the last five decades.
What is a Commodity Supercycle?
A commodity supercycle occurs when prices of commodities rise above their long-term averages for long periods of time, even decades. Once the supply has adequately grown to meet demand, the cycle enters a downswing.
The last commodity supercycle started in 1996 and peaked in 2011, driven by raw material demand from rapid industrialization taking place in Brazil, India, Russia, and China.
|Supercycles in Commodity Prices||1899-1932||1933-1961||1962-1995||1996-2016|
|Peak of supercycle from long-term trend (%)||10.2||14.1||19.5||33.5|
|Trough of supercycle from long-term trend (%)||-12.9||-10||-38.1||23.7|
|Length of cycle from trough-to-trough (years)||33||29||34||20|
Source: Bank of Canada, IHS
While no two supercycles look the same, they all have three indicators in common: a surge in supply, a surge in demand, and a surge in price.
In general, commodity prices and equity valuations tend to have a low to negative correlation, making it rare to see the two moving in tandem in the same direction for any long period of time.
Commodity Prices and Equity Valuations
In line with the above notion, commodity prices and equity valuations have often been at odds with one another in past market cycles.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, for example, rising oil prices led to a significant decline in stock prices as higher energy costs hurt corporate profits. In contrast, during the first half of the 2000s, low oil prices were accompanied by a strong equity bull market that ended with the 2008 stock market crash.
The relationship, however, is not always straightforward and can be affected by various other factors, such as global economic growth, supply and demand, inflation, and other market events.
With the most recent commodity supercycle peaking in 2011, could the next big one be right around the corner?
Visualized: 40 Years of U.S. Automobile Recalls
This interactive graphic visualizes U.S. automobile recalls over the past 40 years by type, company, components, and the number of people impacted.
Visualized: 40 Years of Automobile Recalls in the U.S.
In early February 2023, Honda issued a “Do Not Drive” warning for around 8,200 older cars equipped with the infamous Takata airbags.
These faulty airbags, installed by 19 different automakers including BMW and Toyota from 2002 to 2015, can explode when deployed and have led to numerous tragic accidents. Their recall affected 67 million airbags (including Honda’s vehicles above) and has been known as the largest safety recall in U.S. history.
Over the past four decades, there have been over 22,000 automobile recalls in the United States.
In this interactive piece, Chimdi Nwosu uses data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to visualize the types of automobile recalls over the past 40 years, the companies with the most recalls, the components that were recalled the most, and, most importantly, their impacts on people.
Breaking Down U.S. Automobile Recalls
Whether a recall affects specific vehicle components, equipment, or vehicles as a whole, it affects the lives of millions of automobile users.
When combined, these numbers ramp up exponentially. The U.S. alone has seen a total of 22,651 recalls over the past 40 years, impacting more than one billion people.
|Recall Type||# of U.S. Recalls (1983‒2022)||People Affected|
Almost 72% of these people were affected by nearly 20,000 vehicle recalls, while around 19% were impacted by over 2,000 equipment recalls during this period. Comparatively, the 442 tire recalls and 220 child seat recalls affected significantly less, but still a total of 96.9 million people.
While an inconvenience to many, the recall of these faulty vehicle parts saves many more from unfortunate incidents that may have occurred if left unchecked.
Minor and Major Recalls
One of the largest recalls in history took place in 2014 when General Motors—the manufacturer with the highest total of recalls in four decades—recalled millions of vehicles including the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G5, and 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, amongst others.
|Rank||Top Manufacturer by |
|# of U.S. Recalls (1983‒2022)|
The reason for this recall was a faulty ignition switch that caused the vehicle’s engine to shut down while driving, disabling safety systems including airbags. This fault led to the death of hundreds of people.
However, not all recalls are this severe. BMW, for example, recalled just four vehicles in December last year because one of the four bolts in the driver’s backrest was not attached properly.
Similarly in 2020, Ford recalled some of its vehicles due to a faulty door latch. While this recall inconvenienced over two million users, it was less likely to lead to severe consequences if left unchecked.
A Safer Future?
The number of automobile recalls over the past four decades has seen a steep rise. As have car safety standards.
While recalls could hint at the risks involved in taking your car out for a drive, they also indicate manufacturers taking responsibility for their faulty commodities, and affect a very small percentage of vehicles on the road.
To improve automobile safety, the NHTSA proposed a New Car Assessment Program in 2022, which provides vehicle users with safety ratings for every new vehicle. This five-star safety rating program rates the vehicles’ safety features, crashworthiness, and resistance to rollover.
With self-driving cars now also entering the mix, we need to stay informed about vehicle safety to keep our vehicles, our streets, and ourselves safe in the future.
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