Over the last few years Chinese demand (or weakness of) has been the main cause of volatile commodity prices. Copper has been one of those commodities but supply factors have also been influential in pushing copper prices to their highest level in the last two years. Strikes and supply disruptions (see graph below) in two of the world’s biggest mines will have a significant impact:
Escondido in Chile (the largest in the world) and Grasberg in Indonesia.
Both mines account for 9% of mined copper supply. One-month shutdown at both mines removes 140,000 tonnes which equates to 0.7% of world output. In both mines labour contracts are up for renewal and they account for 14% of production. The video below from Al Jazeera looks at the strike action by miners at Escondido in Chile where workers are rallying against cuts to pay and benefits by owners BHP Billiton which are designed to improve productivity. However, in the last three years productivity in the mine is up 48% and the labour force has been cup by 17%.
Add to this more demand from China and there is only one way copper prices can go – it is up 20%. Resolutions to labour relations are needed in both Chile and Indonesia if supply is to be restored to pre-dispute levels. Furthermore the outlook for copper demand is strong with its importance to electric vehicles and wind and solar energy units. In the long-term, depletion of copper ores will also put pressure on prices northwards.
Source: The Economist 16th Feb 2017. Al Jazeera 23rd Feb 2017
High-class prostitutes in Spain have gone on strike over the financial sector’s reluctance to extend credit to families and small businesses. The women say they will not have sex with bankers until the situation changes. “We have been on strike for three days,” said one woman in Madrid. “We don’t think they can withstand much more.” It is claimed that bankers have been trying to get around the strike by posing as architects and engineers – but the sex workers have not been fooled. “It’s been many years since these professionals could afford rates that start at £250 an hour,” said one. .
With the issue Collateral Debt Obligation (CDO) and Credit Default Swaps (CDS) leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 I am surprised that the Spanish banking fraternity haven’t developed a SPS – Spanish Prostitute Security. I am sure the SPS would be rated AAA by Standard & Whores.