After plunging by a fifth last year, copper prices have jumped to their highest level in eight months: around $6,500 per tonne. Tight supplies and optimism over global growth boosted prices after President Donald Trump said he would delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods (see above).
The red metal is found in consumer products, cars and semiconductors. In 2018 global demand reached 23.6 million tonnes. By 2027, it could hit 30 million tonnes, representing an average annual growth rate of about 2.6%, according to Forbes. Electric vehicles use far more copper than their combustion-powered counterparts. Bullish sentiment has offset recent signs of a downturn in China, the main consumer of the metal.
The German economy minister Peter Altmaier, a Christian Democrat,has been trumpeting his “national industrial strategy”. He thinks Germany is under threat from both China and the technology giants of the West. He therefore wants to bolster domestic industries through state intervention.
A government investment fund is to be created to take stakes in local companies and protect them from foreign takeovers. Altmaier also thinks the state should play a leading role in the development of artificial intelligence and use billions of taxpayers’ money to subsidise companies in the field. In other words, Germany wants to be a bit more like China. As if the German government had foolproof information on what investments are needed today to be successful in 30 years’ time. Who needs socialists these days? German (and Austrian) conservatives are happily implementing their policies.
Franz Schellhorn, Profil (Austria)