Commodities have fallen a lot, but if Chinese growth were to decelerate, they would really crater.
SocGen’s Cross Asset Research team explains:
Hard commodities will fall apart if China starts to slow in H2 11. For example, early in 2011, we already saw a dramatic fall-off in Chinese appetite for copper although prices remained high due to continued production issues. Contrastingly, agricultural demand from China is likely to protect soft commodities better from a fall in prices as demand is still trending higher. For example, soybean imports from China doubled over the past five years which means demand was up by nearly 5Mt/year. The recent tightening in monetary policy had a limited impact on soybean prices and even the deceleration in economic growth could fail to curtail agricultural demand. Shortly, China will become a net corn importer and then a wheat importer.
This somewhat messy chart shows how connected commodity prices are to Chinese GDP, as well as how big of a role China plays in the demand for specific commodities.