[ExI] Sources of info on historical commodity prices
nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Apr 7 20:44:26 UTC 2012
With a few minutes of the modern art of google fu, I found this - http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/334934-1304428586133/PINK_DATA.xlsx
this will download an excel spreadsheet of World Bank data in nominal US dollars, monthly series from 1960 month 1(or January, as we call it) to 2012 month 3.
Copper is column BK, tin BM, nickel BN. Found on world bank webpage http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTDECPROSPECTS/0,,contentMDK:21574907~menuPK:7859231~pagePK:64165401~piPK:64165026~theSitePK:476883,00.html))
Checking for chromium and tungsten, http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/ isn't completely up-to-date, as Max said.
http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/chromium/180798.pdf states that "Trade journal prices for chromium metal go back only to 1964. Thus, chromite ore is the only chromium commodity for which the reported historical trade journal price and U.S. import value series is long." (that PDF contains annual figures from 1940 to 1998, nominal US$)
Bah, chromium may be tricky. Searching further for recent chromium and tungsten prices, there's a few companies offering free price charts for these for the last 5 years, but I can't see the underlying data eg http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/
http://www.itia.info/tungsten-prices.html has a chart, they got the data from Metal Bulletin, http://www.metalbulletin.com. They offer a 7 day free trial which allows you to chart and compare up to 5 price series - so presumably you'd need to know exactly *which* tungsten or chrome price you needed.
Anyway, researching the above was a lot easier than trying to find medieval salt prices, which I tried the other day. I raise my hat to Gregory Clark, for not only is "A Farewell to Alms" a good read, but his economic history team have researched some ludicrously difficult parts of economic history, such as comparing Ancient Babylonian grain prices to English Industrial Revolution prices.
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