Financial Speculation, Export Cartels and Commodity Crises – FINEXCA

FINEXCA investigates the role natural resources, finance and export cartels in commodity markets. Running from 2016-2019, it is a Polish-German collaboration funded by the Narodowe Centrum Nauki (NCN) and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)*. More | Team


In 2007–2008, a global Food Crisis erupted and food commodity prices doubled within months; since then, prices have remained at historically high levels. While the severity of the crisis, especially on the developing world, is undoubted, there is substantial disagreement on its fundamental causes. Certainly, the food crisis did not occur in a vacuum – it coincided with all-time high oil prices and the Great Financial Crisis. Different policies affected agriculture at the time, not least that government biofuel mandates began to divert substantial quantities from food to fuel. Understanding this “perfect storm” continues to remain a challenge for researchers.

In project FINEXCA (“Financial Speculation, Export Cartels and Commodity Crises”), we investigate the role of indirect energy, especially fertilizer, in agriculture. Fertilizer markets are complex, not always competitive, but their product is crucial for agricultural yields. Our focus is on the economic consequences of fertilizer prices, and the market conditions that make fertilizer cartels possible. The current work packages are:

  • WP1: How Fertilizer Affects Food Prices
    Modern agriculture is heavily reliant on fertilizer to provide energy for plant growth. But how does fertilizer affect food prices? So far, there has been next to no research on this topic. In WP1, we develop econometric models to identify the impact of fertilizer on food prices.
    Researchers: Hinnerk Gnutzmann, Piotr Spiewanowski
  • WP2: Dealing with Export Cartels
    Fertilizer is produced partly from minerals – phosphorus and potassium. the reserves of these minerals are concentrated in few countries. Much like for other resources – such as oil – the markets for these minerals have thus come to be controlled by export cartels. In WP2, we investigate the strategies that buy-side countries (such as China and India) can take to deal with export cartels.
    Researchers: Hinnerk Gnutzmann
  • WP3: Finance, Speculation and Commodity Markets
    Commodity and stock exchange markets are getting more interconnected. In this work package we will investigate price transmission from commodity prices to commodity producers and retailers’ stock prices. Using financial microdata will also analyse the changes in rent distribution along the supply chain between high and low  commodity price regimes.
    Researchers: Oskar Kowalewski, Piotr Spiewanowski


*The project is financially supported by NCN under the grant number Nr DEC UMO-2014/15/G/HS4/03629