Economies move from waves of high demand and heavy investment to slumps. But there are also shocks that can be created by an innovation or maybe even an aggressive government stimulus program. As a result, a supercycle in commodities evolves that can dictate the fates of industries and push people into different types of employment. Supercycles can even influence innovation.
Professor David Jacks of Simon Fraser University in Canada defines a commodities supercycle as a "decade-long positive deviation from ... long-term trends." His data show there have been three since 1900. The latest upturn in the commodities supercycle, which sent prices and production skyrocketing, was driven by China's explosive and extended period of growth. But it appears to have peaked. Prices for oil, coal, steel and other products are going down. Asia will be affected, positively and negatively.