Any company that owns commodities, either through production or merchant activities, needs to know not only the current value of those commodities based on market prices, but also needs to develop a view of the future value of those commodities during the time that they are projected to be held in inventory. Additionally, agreements to purchase commodities in the future must be accounted for, not only at their agreed or projected purchase price, but also during their anticipated holding period.
Commodity prices are constantly changing and are driven by market forces that are virtually impossible to predict with any degree of certainty. As such, accurately forecasting costs and price exposures is difficult at best, and particularly so now, given the rapidly changing supply and demand patterns that define the global commodity complex. Huge growth in demand for all commodities in Asia, the rapid rise of agricultural exports from developing countries in the Asia-Pac region, and the shale revolution that is driving unprecedented growth in US oil production, are all examples of the new dynamics that have fundamentally altered price formation in markets around the world. In this globalized and increasingly interconnected market-place, which is being constantly buffeted by economic uncertainty, predicting future prices is more difficult, but perhaps more important, than ever.
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