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Mapped: Which Countries Have the Highest Inflation?

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Mapped: Which Countries Have the Highest Inflation Rate?

Mapped: Which Countries Have the Highest Inflation Rate?

Inflation is surging nearly everywhere in 2022.

Geopolitical tensions are triggering high energy costs, while supply-side disruptions are also distorting consumer prices. The end result is that almost half of countries worldwide are seeing double-digit inflation rates or higher.

With new macroeconomic forces shaping the global economy, the above infographic shows countries with the highest inflation rates, using data from Trading Economics.

Double-Digit Inflation in 2022

As the table below shows, countless countries are navigating record-high levels of inflation. Some are even facing triple-digit inflation rates. Globally, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, and Venezuela have the highest rates in the world.

CountryInflation Rate, Year-Over-YearDate
๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ผ Zimbabwe269.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ง Lebanon162.0%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช Venezuela156.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡พ Syria139.0%Aug 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Sudan103.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท Argentina88.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey85.5%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Sri Lanka66.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran52.2%Aug 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ท Suriname41.4%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ญ Ghana40.4%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡บ Cuba37.2%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Laos36.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Moldova34.6%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡น Ethiopia31.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ผ Rwanda31.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡น Haiti30.5%Jul 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Sierra Leone29.1%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan26.6%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Ukraine26.6%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ผ Malawi25.9%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania23.6%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia22.5%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฎ Burundi22.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡น Sao Tome and Principe21.9%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia21.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary21.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Nigeria21.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Macedonia19.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Myanmar19.4%Jun 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Kazakhstan18.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland17.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria17.6%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฒ Turkmenistan17.5%Dec 2021
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ Bosnia and Herzegovina17.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ช Montenegro16.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด Angola16.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ซ Burkina Faso16.5%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Egypt16.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Comoros15.9%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Kyrgyzstan15.4%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania15.3%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡พ Belarus15.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic15.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ Serbia15.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia14.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ณ Mongolia14.5%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands14.3%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Azerbaijan13.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ซ Afghanistan13.6%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Gambia13.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia13.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Botswana13.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ณ Senegal13.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Chile12.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฝ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Kosovo12.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia12.6%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ณ Guinea12.4%Jul 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium12.3%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด Colombia12.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Uzbekistan12.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Congo12.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Nicaragua12.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡พ Cayman Islands12.1%Jun 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡บ Mauritius11.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Mozambique11.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy11.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Mali11.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ท Mauritania11.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom11.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria11.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden10.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Uganda10.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ช Georgia10.6%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany10.4%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ณ Honduras10.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark10.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal10.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Jamaica9.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia9.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡น Guatemala9.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Zambia9.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ช Kenya9.6%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Armenia9.5%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland9.4%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Madagascar9.3%Aug 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland9.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ธ Lesotho9.2%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ณ Tunisia9.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece9.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡พ Uruguay9.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท Costa Rica9.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ Bangladesh8.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus8.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ด Faroe Islands8.8%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Algeria8.7%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ต Nepal8.6%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ง Solomon Islands8.5%Aug 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico8.4%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ผ Guinea Bissau8.4%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Albania8.3%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ง Barbados8.3%Aug 2022
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland8.3%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Morocco8.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช Peru8.3%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ด Dominican Republic8.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ป Cape Verde8.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡พ Paraguay8.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฑ East Timor7.9%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฌ Togo7.9%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ Philippines7.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.7.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Cameroon7.6%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway7.5%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore7.5%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ South Africa7.5%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ป El Salvador7.5%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta7.4%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia7.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain7.3%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฉ Chad7.2%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand7.2%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ Belize7.1%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Namibia7.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ผ Aruba7.0%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada6.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg6.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ด Somalia6.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India6.8%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช United Arab Emirates6.8%Jun 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡พ Guyana6.5%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ท Liberia6.5%Jul 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil6.5%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ธ Bahamas6.3%Aug 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Ivory Coast6.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡น Trinidad and Tobago6.3%Aug 2022
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France6.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Djibouti6.1%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ท Puerto Rico6.1%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡น Bhutan6.1%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡น Qatar6.0%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand6.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Swaziland5.8%Aug 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia5.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea5.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฏ Tajikistan5.7%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฌ Papua New Guinea5.5%Jun 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ Cambodia5.4%Jul 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ถ Iraq5.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ด Jordan5.2%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Fiji5.1%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel5.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡จ New Caledonia5.0%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฟ Tanzania4.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฒ Bermuda4.5%Jul 2022
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ท Eritrea4.5%Dec 2021
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ Malaysia4.5%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong4.4%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ธ Palestine4.4%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ณ Brunei4.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡พ Libya4.3%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam4.3%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ Ecuador4.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ญ Bahrain4.0%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan3.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ผ Kuwait3.2%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ช Niger3.2%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ป Maldives3.1%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Gabon3.0%Jul 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Liechtenstein3.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia3.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland3.0%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ Seychelles2.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ถ Equatorial Guinea2.9%Dec 2021
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ด Bolivia2.9%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan2.7%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ซ Central African Republic2.7%Dec 2021
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡บ Vanuatu2.7%Mar 2022
๐Ÿ‡ด๐Ÿ‡ฒ Oman2.4%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฏ Benin2.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China2.1%Oct 2022
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฆ Panama1.9%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ด Macau1.1%Sep 2022
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ธ South Sudan-2.5%Aug 2022

*Inflation rates based on the latest available data.

As price pressures mount, 33 central banks tracked by the Bank of International Settlements (out of a total of 38) have raised interest rates this year. These coordinated rate hikes are the largest in two decades, representing an end to an era of rock-bottom interest rates.

Going into 2023, central banks could continue this shift towards hawkish policies as inflation remains aggressively high.

The Role of Energy Prices

Driven by the war in Ukraine, energy inflation is pushing up the cost of living around the world.

Since October 2020, an index of global energy pricesโ€”made up of crude oil, natural gas, coal, and propaneโ€”has increased drastically.

Double-Digit Inflation

Compared to the 2021 average, natural gas prices in Europe are up sixfold. Real European household electricity prices are up 78% and gas prices have climbed even more, at 144% compared to 20-year averages.

Amid global competition for liquefied natural gas supplies, price pressures are likely to stay high, even though they have fallen recently. Other harmful consequences of the energy shock include price volatility, economic strain, and energy shortages.

โ€œThe world is in the midst of the first truly global energy crisis, with impacts that will be felt for years to comeโ€.

-Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA

Double-Digit Inflation: Will it Last?

If history is an example, taming rising prices could take at least a few years yet.

Take the sky-high inflation of the 1980s. Italy, which managed to combat inflation faster than most countries, brought down inflation from 22% in 1980 to 4% in 1986.

If global inflation rates, which hover around 9.8% in 2022, were to follow this course, it would take at least until 2025 for levels to reach the 2% target.

Itโ€™s worth noting that inflation was also highly volatile over this decade. Consider how inflation fell across much of the rich world by 1981 but shot up again in 1987 amid higher energy prices. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell spoke to the volatility of inflation at their November meeting, indicating that high inflation has a chance of following a period of low inflation.

While the Federal Reserve projects U.S. inflation to fall closer to its 2% target by 2024, the road ahead could still get a lot bumpier between now and then.

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The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2013-2022)

This table shows the fluctuating returns for various commodities over the past decade, from energy fuels to industrial and precious metals.

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periodic table of commodity returns over last ten years

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2013-2022)

Trying to predict which commodities will come out on top in any given year is tricky businessโ€”especially during this turbulent period in markets.

By looking back at previous years, investors can gain insights into long-term trends and patterns in commodity prices. To help better understand these trends, U.S. Global Investors releases a visualization called the Periodic Table of Commodity Returns at the outset of each year.

This yearโ€™s edition looks back over the past decade of returns between 2013 and 2022, and features an interactive design that allows users to sort returns by various categories including returns, volatility, and other groupings.

Editor’s note: Because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, regional benchmarks for some commodities (coal, natural gas) had much bigger price divergences than is typical. In this case the graphic focuses in on U.S. regional benchmarks like Powder River Basin coal and Henry Hub natural gas prices. These prices may differ from price action seen around the world.

More Volatility, but Positive Returns

After 2021 saw an impressive surge in commodity prices as the world reopened post-pandemic, 2022 brought another year of positive returns for the asset class that were defined by high levels of volatility.

The broad-based S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) surged 52.1% in the first five months of 2022, as supply disruptions and fears across grains, metals, and energy fuels were spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The second half of the year saw prices cool as the U.S. continued to release crude oil from its strategic petroleum reserve while Russia and Ukraine established an agreement to enable grain and agricultural exports, quelling fears of extended supply disruptions.

The result? In the last seven months of the year the S&P GSCI nearly completed a return trip and only ended up rising 8.7% in 2022 overall.

Commodity2022 Returns
Lithium72.49%
Nickel43.13%
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)19.97%
Corn14.37%
Platinum10.90%
S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI)8.71%
Crude oil6.71%
Silver2.77%
Wheat2.76%
Lead-0.05%
Gold-0.28%
Palladium-5.89%
Copper-14.13%
Aluminum-16.27%
Zinc-16.34%
Coal (PRB)-48.34%

Another key factor that helped keep commodity prices cool in 2022 was China’s extended lockdowns which slowed down the country’s manufacturing and industrial capabilities. This helped reduce the demand of energy fuels in 2022, along with industrial metals like copper, aluminum, and zinc.

Lithium Continues to Top Commodity Returns

A metal that did shine brightly in 2022 was lithium, which has been newly added to the Periodic Table of Commodity Returns.

After topping the table in 2021 with an outsized price increase of 442.8%, lithium kept its top spot in 2022 with a more modest price increase of 72.5%.

lithium in the commodities ranking 2013-2022

The growing global push towards electric vehicles (EVs) has been a major contributor to the increase in demand for lithium and nickel, which was the second-best performing commodity in 2022 with a price increase of 43.1%. As more countries set targets to phase out gasoline and diesel vehicles, demand for key battery minerals like lithium and nickel is expected to continue to rise.

While the U.S. is working to strengthen its battery metals production and supply chains with $2.8 billion in grants for domestic lithium, graphite, and nickel projects, it will be years before more supply comes online as a result. In the meantime,ย robust demand for EVs in Chinaย has provided a constant need for these battery metals which are currently in short supply.

Energy Price Variance Fueled by Regional Uncertainty

After 2021 saw energy fuels dominate the top spots after lithium, energy fuel prices in 2022 were more volatile with more scattered returns. Natural gas was the only fuel which saw double-digit returns at a 19.9%, with crude oil returning 6.7% and coal at the bottom of the table at -48.3%.

It’s important to keep in mind how geopolitical events and supply disruptions last year affected the regional price differences for energy fuels. While WTI crude oil (North America’s benchmark) increased by 6.7% in 2022, Brent crude oil (Europe’s benchmark) was up 10.4% as Urals crude oil (Russia’s benchmark) fell by more than 26.5%.

Type of Crude Oil2022 ReturnsPrice in U.S. dollars (Jan 17, 2023)
Brent Crude Oil (European benchmark)10.35%$86.72
WTI Crude Oil (North American benchmark)6.72%$81.01
Urals Crude Oil (Russian benchmark)-26.53%$55.60

As a result of the war and ensuing sanctions, the discount of Urals crude oil compared to Brent crude oil went from -$1.72 at the start of 2022 all the way to -$30.71 by the end of the year.

Thermal coal prices faced similar regional divergences, with Powder River Basin (PRB) coal (America’s benchmark for coal) falling by 48.3% this year while Newcastle coal, which is delivered out of the port of Newcastle, Australia primarily to various Asian nations, saw prices skyrocket up by 156.6% in 2022.

After such a wild year with huge variance in commodity prices, we’ll see if 2023 can bring some stability or if high volatility and growing regional price discrepancies will become the norm.

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The Top 10 Best and Worst-Performing Commodities of 2022

The year 2022 was full of volatility for commodity prices. This infographic charts the top 10 best and worst commodities by returns in 2022.

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best performing commodities of 2022

Top 10 Best and Worst-Performing Commodities of 2022

Hard commodities had a roller coaster year in 2022.

While prices for some commodities stabilized after skyrocketing on the heels of the pandemic, others delivered stellar returns. Behind the volatility was a plethora of factors, including the Russia-Ukraine war, the global economic slump, and a drop in Chinaโ€™s demand for materials.

This chart uses price data from TradingEconomics to highlight the 10 best and worst performing hard commodities of 2022. It excludes soft commodities like agricultural products and meat.

Energy Crisis Sets Coal on Fire

The global economic rebound of 2021, which set the fastest post-recession growth pace in the last 80 years, sparked coal prices as energy demand increased. Russiaโ€™s invasion of Ukraine ignited the spark, with coal prices exploding 157% in 2022.

Consequently, coal was the best performing commodity in 2022, far outperforming the other nine top commodities by returns.

RankCommodity2022 Returns
#1Coal157%
#2Lithium87%
#3Nickel43%
#4Titanium27%
#5Heating oil21%
#6Uranium12%
#7Platinum9%
#8Molybdenum4%
#9Iron ore1%
#10Gold1%

Lithium (carbonate) and nickel prices continue to be supercharged by the demand for EVs and batteries. Since the beginning of 2021, lithium prices have increased 11-fold, and remain elevated at more than $70,000 per tonne.

As a result of high prices for lithium, nickel, and other battery metals, the average cost of lithium-ion battery packs increased in 2022, for the first time since 2010. Battery pack prices are expected to increase in 2023 as well, before falling in 2024.

The year was also positive for uranium as countries revived their nuclear power plans to combat the energy crunch. Notably, Germany extended the lifetime of three plants that were set to shut down in 2022, and Japan announced accelerated restarts for several idle reactors.

What About Crude Oil?

Crude oil is by far the biggest commodity market, and oil prices were the talk of the town for much of 2022.

Following Russiaโ€™s invasion of Ukraine, WTI crude oil prices rose to their highest level since 2013 by May 2022. However, between June and the end of December, prices fell from around $116 per barrel to $80 per barrel (a 31% fall). Overall, in 2022, crude oil delivered a -3% return.

The erasure of oilโ€™s initial gains can be attributed to the slowdown in economic growth globally, in addition to strict COVID-19 lockdowns in China.

The 10 Biggest Commodity Drawdowns

The negative returns for most commodities can be largely attributed to prices stabilizing at lower levels after bullish runs in 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

RankCommodity2022 Returns
#1Magnesium-54%
#2Tin-37%
#3Propane-37%
#4Rubber-26%
#5Cobalt-26%
#6Natural Gas TTF-20%
#7Naphtha-19%
#8Zinc-18%
#9Copper-16%
#10Aluminum-16%

For example, magnesium prices more than halved in 2022, declining from an all-time high in September 2021. Similarly, tin prices also normalized after rising due to unprecedented demand from the electronics sector during the economic rebound from the pandemic.

The volatility in European natural gas (TTF gas) was one of the highlights of the year. Prices rose to around โ‚ฌ340 per megawatt-hour in August as the region looked to cut its reliance on Russia. However, they have since fallen due to milder temperatures in winter and the overall drop in energy demand. Still, on average, TTF prices were 150% higher in 2022 than in 2021.

Copper prices are known to reflect the state of the global economy. Itโ€™s safe to say that they did so in 2022, falling 16% as economic growth slowed down and Chinaโ€™s economic activity came to a halt at various times due to Zero-COVID policies.

How Will Commodities Perform in 2023?

According to Goldman Sachs, commodity markets have a bullish outlook for 2023, mainly due to underinvestment and the lack of supply response in 2022.

Rising interest rates worldwide increased the cost of capital in 2022, which drained money from commodity markets. Therefore, supply shortages are expected to persist. As China reopens and eases its lockdown measures, the demand for hard commodities is likely to rebound, putting upward pressure on prices.

J.P. Morgan has similar expectations. The bank expects oil prices to rise due to an increase in demand but projects a โ€œtransitional yearโ€ for base metals, with prices expected to remain relatively stable. The outlook for precious metals is more positive, with gold prices expected to hover around $1,860 per ounce towards the end of 2023.

Of course, commodity markets are volatile. With various geopolitical and macroeconomic moving parts, itโ€™ll be interesting to see what this year has in store for fuels and metals.

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