Globalisation has gone a long way towards freeing individual economies from their resource and technology constraints. But, paradoxically, as large economies grow, their need for resources may strain availability on a worldwide basis, causing commodity prices to rise, with adverse consequences for inflation, trade balance and growth. This paper is concerned with recent developments, focusing particularly on the petroleum market. The recent upsurge and collapse of world petroleum prices reflects underlying demand and supply conditions, augmented by speculative behaviour. Even though petroleum prices have declined as the world economy has gone into recession, the conflict between growth of demand for petroleum and resource availability may reappear during the recovery phase of the cycle.
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