Information about Western Hemisphere Hemisferio Occidental
Journal Issue

Global Outlook: Commodity Prices Slump, Less Appetite for Oil Amid Downturn

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
December 2008
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Information about Western Hemisphere Hemisferio Occidental
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Commodity prices have declined sharply from recent peaks on expectations of a sharp global downturn, as demand for commodities has weakened in tandem with world economic activity.

Commodity prices have plummeted in recent weeks (see Chart 1). The current global downturn has led to a decrease in global energy demand and a concomitant fall in energy prices. Energy prices have dropped at least 40 percent from their peak in July 2008.

Chart 1Down they go Commodity prices continue to drop but are still above historical levels. commodity prices, index, 2000=100)

Source: IMF, International Financial Statistics database.

Food prices, which were pushed up by a combination of rising demand and weatherrelated supply shocks, have also seen a sharp drop. They are down by 27 percent from their record high in June 2008.

The average U.S. retail price for regular-grade gasoline—at $2.15 per gallon in November—is more than $1.90 per gallon below its high in mid-July 2008 (see Chart 2). With a weak economy expected to continue through most of 2009, along with lower crude oil prices, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects the annual average retail gasoline price in the United States in 2009 will be $2.03 per gallon.

Chart 2Cheap oil The average U.S. retail price for regular-grade gasoline has dropped dramatically from its peak in July. (cents per gallon)

Source: Energy Information Administration.

Decelerating activity, along with the continued impact of rising oil prices earlier in the year, have led to declining oil demand in the United States in 2008 (see Chart 3).

Chart 3Slowing oil demand World oil consumption is projected to fall in 2008 and 2009.

Source: Energy Information Administration.

World oil consumption is also expected to decline this year—albeit only slightly—by about 49,000 barrels a day or 0.06 percent compared to an increase of 849,000 barrels a day or 1.0 percent in 2007. According to the EIA, world oil consumption is projected to decrease in 2009 by 449,000 barrels a day or 0.5 percent.

IMF Data and Statistics

The IMF publishes a range of time series data on IMF lending, exchange rates, and other economic and financial indicators. Manuals, guides, and other material on statistical practices at the IMF, in member countries, and in the statistical community at large are also available.

For a comprehensive listing of data sources, visit the “data and statistics” section of the IMF website at

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