By Michael Snyder, on December 10th, 2015
If we really are plunging into a deflationary global financial crisis, we would expect to see commodity prices crash hard. That happened just before the great stock market crash of 2008, and that is precisely what is happening once again right now. On Thursday, the Bloomberg Commodity Index closed at 79.1544. The last time that it closed this low was 16 years ago. Not even during the worst moments of the last recession did it ever get so low. Overall, the Bloomberg Commodity Index is down more than 28 percent over the past 12 months, and it has plummeted by more than half since mid-2011. As a result of this stunning commodity collapse, extremely large mining companies such as Anglo American are imploding, giant commodity trading firms such as Glencore and Trafigura are in full-blown crisis mode, and huge portions of the global financial system are in danger of utterly collapsing.
In recent days, I have been trying to stress that many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008 are happening once again. This includes the staggering crash of commodity prices that we are currently witnessing, and even CNN acknowledges that there are parallels to what we experienced seven years ago…
The last time raw materials like copper and oil were this cheap, an economic depression loomed just around the corner.
It’s no secret that commodities in general have had a horrendous 2015. A nasty combination of overflowing supply and soft demand has wreaked havoc on the industry.
But prices for everything from crude oil to industrial metals like aluminum, steel, copper, platinum, and palladium have collapsed even further in recent days.
As I mentioned above, this crash in prices is hitting mining companies really hard. Just this week, the fifth largest mining company in the entire world announced a massive restructuring and will be laying off tens of thousands of workers…
In the latest example of just how bad things have gotten, Anglo American–the world’s fifth largest miner–just kitchen sink-ed it, announcing a sweeping restructuring, a massive round of layoffs, and a dividend cut. The company will reduce its assets by some 60% while headcount will be cut by a whopping 85,000 or, nearly two-thirds.
Overall, the U.S. has lost approximately 123,000 good paying jobs from the mining sector since the end of 2014. And if commodity prices stay low, this sector is going to continue to bleed good paying jobs.
Meanwhile, investors have been dumping the debt of any companies that have anything to do with commodities. This has significantly contributed to the emerging junk bond crisis that I discussed in my last article. As I write this, a high yield bond ETF known as JNK has fallen all the way down to…