Monday, October 25, 2010

Commodity Lottery, XXI edition

The idea of a commodity lottery is well known among the students of Latin American economic history. It goes like that: the path of development that each country took was related to the characteristics of its main (natural resource based product) natural product exports: income elasticity and price, the possibility of linkages and global competition ... Exporting bananas or rubber is very different from exporting meat or coffee.
Well, now the argument of bad luck comes back. The great "New Economic Geographer" Gordon Hanson writes (via MR) in Why Mexico is not Rich? that the reason behind Mexico's misfortune is that its specialization pattern lies in goods similar to those of China.
China’s size, high rate of growth, and increasing outward orientation mean that its emergence is surely changing international prices, improving the terms of trade for countries that produce its importables and deteriorating the terms of trade for countries that produce its exportables. Mexico fits squarely in the latter camp, whereas Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru fit in the former.


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kavin smith said...
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rajnish singh said...

Hi: Nice article, but couple points worth making:

a. We can’t confuse the evaluation of equities as a valid asset class with the timing of that investing. It’s true that investing in US Commodity at the present time – due to the run-up in the market, ultra low rates etc. mightn’t be a great idea. But in the grand scheme of asset classes, U.S. Commodity are probably still a better than average vehicle to invest in, in the long run.

b. I want outsized returns: all discussions on return must be framed against a discussion of risk. The risk-return argument for starting your own business is very different from a risk-return argument on a well-run large cap company. I suggest readers both options logically and independently. Finally, i don’t think it is a useful attitude to approach equity investing as a gamble to hit the jackpot. The best, long term investors make solid singles and doubles that build into sustainable returns in the long haul.

I think you might have been better off titling the article:

Thx Rajnish
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