Supply v Demand – Does It Always Work?


Armstrong Economics Blog/Agriculture Re-Posted May 5, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong, You say that wheat fell during the Great Depression during the Dust Bowl when supply would have declined. This makes no sense. Would you address that question?

KL

ANSWER: Your problem is typical in analysis. It appears that 99% of the people always try to reduce some event to a single cause and effect. Everything is connected like a line of dominoes. You are not just pushing over a single one. The action has a ripple effect that moves through the entire world economy and is not even restricted to a single nation.

I do not make stuff up to try to prove a point. I have been curious to discover how things really work. When I say we have the largest database in the world, I am not joking. Just as I have been a collector of various things, that includes data. It is easy to find a yearly chart of wheat, but not daily or weekly during that period. Here is how wheat responded during the Great Depression on a weekly basis. Note that it peaked about 4 weeks before the stock market. Then you see a huge gap down in 1931.

This was caused by the wholesale defaults of just about every nation. Some went into a moratorium and suspended payments on their debt like Britain. But most outright defaulted and you can buy their bonds usually on eBay.

Here is the impact of the 1931 Sovereign Debt Crisis. The dollar soared on our index from roughly the 112 level to nearly 160. That was high which exceeded even World War I levels. That illustrates just how high the dollar rallied. Because wheat was priced in dollars, it fell in terms of dollars while rising in terms of other currencies because of their defaults.

The Federal Reserve raised rates in 1931 during the Depression because they feared that the dollar would collapse because confidence in government globally collapsed.

Now, look at the unemployment. It soared as well. Because people lost their jobs, demand declined with supply. So you see, this is a far more complex issue than meets the eye. It is also why I say governments should NEVER be allowed to manipulate the economy. They always focus on a single cause and effect and never look at the whole.

Consequently, while supply contracts, your assumption that price should rise is predicated upon demand remaining the same or rising. Therein lies your answer. That is simply a false assumption.

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