To borrow a phrase once used about business cycles, it can be said that “the study of super cycles necessarily begins with the measurement of super cycles” (adapted from Baxter and King, 1999). Are metal prices currently in the early phase of such a “super cycle”? Many market observers believe the answer is yes. Academics, on the other hand, are generally skeptical about the presence of long cycles. This paper searches for evidence of super cycles in metal prices by using band-pass filters to extract particular cyclical components from time series data. The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that there have been three super cycles in the past 150 years or so, and that we are currently in the early phase of a fourth super cycle. Most analysts attribute the latter primarily to Chinese urbanization and industrialization. IMF Staff Papers (2008) 55, 541–565. doi:10.1057/imfsp.2008.19; published online 19 August 2008
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