Commodity Prices and the Consumer

Includes: BCX, DBC, XLP
by: Bespoke Investment Group

In the chart below we have calculated the cumulative daily price change of the major food and energy commodities in the CRB index (Corn, Soy, Wheat, Cattle, Hogs, Oil and Natural Gas) since the beginning of 2008. We then multiplied the changes by the annual per capita consumption of each item. While this method may oversimplify the actual costs, it provides a good idea of how changes in commodity prices have impacted consumers' wallets over the last 18 months.

Back in April, the impact of commodity prices on the consumer shifted from a benefit to a tax for the first time in two years. Fortunately this tax didn't last long, as commodities have since pulled back. Compared to the start of 2008, consumers are currently seeing a benefit of 99 cents per person per day due to a net drop in commodity prices. As shown in the chart, this is now lower than the lows we saw earlier this Summer, and it's the lowest level since mid-February.