Commodities

3 Reasons to Buy Now, Best Trade One Expert Has Even Seen

  • Copper “is the most compelling trade I have ever seen,” Carlyle’s Jeff Currie said on the Odd Lots podcast.
  • He thinks the metal’s massive mismatch in supply and demand could push its price up to $15,000 a ton.
  • Industry demand, wealth redistribution, and geopolitical conflict will deepen the imbalance, Currie said.

Copper supply issues are making the metal considerably more expensive, says commodities veteran Jeff Currie, who is very bullish on the opportunity.

“It is the most compelling trade I have ever seen in my 30-plus years of doing this,” the Carlyle chief strategy officer of energy pathways said on the Bloomberg Odd Lots podcast. He later added: “I just quote many of our clients and other market participants say it’s the highest conviction trade they’ve ever seen.”

The metal has already surged more than 21% in 2024, and Currie — who was previously head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs — expects it to reach $15,000 a ton in the next couple of years. From current levels, that’s a roughly 46% gain.

The main basis for this is that copper is in the throes of an unprecedented supply-demand imbalance, and there are three reasons for why this won’t be a passing fad, Currie says. Demand for the commodity looks only to deepen, but investment and production is still lacking.

To explain why he’s betting on such upside risk, Currie broke out the acronym “RED:” redistribution, environmental policies, and deglobalization.

First, Currie noted that lower-income groups have long been the bigger consumers of commodities. Therefore, policy that redistributes wealth to this cohort is a tailwind for materials such as copper. 

“That’s very much alive and kicking. You look at the low unemployment rate, who is the biggest benefactor of that? It is the lower-income groups and, you know, policy’s still very much in play all over the world right now, reinforcing these lower income groups in the consumption of commodities,” Currie said.

Second, rising environmental policy has set off an industry-wide race for copper. The metal, which is used in everything from solar to EV batteries, is playing a central part of the world’s greenification.

“You have the IRA, the REPowerEU, China. Now part of the reason why copper’s rallied recently, China’s growth was over 100% in green CapEx last year, 30% this year,” Currie said.

Though not necessarily part of his acronym, artificial intelligence is also amplifying industry demand, Currie mentioned. After all, the rising technology depends on an improved electricity grid, something that will effectively be determined by copper.

Third, deglobalization has become a way greater theme than analysts ever imagine, Currie said. That’s translating into rising military spending, with the US decoting $95 billion on munitions.

However, this has yet to precipitate into a supply-side boom. Thinning inventories have had no help from mining output, which has stalled out amid political and financial challenges. In one example, a Panama mine responsible for 1.5% of world output has sat idle since November.

In Currie’s view, some of this is because big sector players are still unwilling to lean into fresh investment, as opposed to taking over pre-existing mines through mergers and acquisitions. 

“You don’t have to look any further than the Anglo-American bids,” he said. “BHP finds it cheaper to buy Anglo-American than putting a drill into the ground. And that’s pretty much been the case across the board, is that they’re finding ways to increase supply, particularly through M&A activity as opposed to having to do it through organic, let’s call it, greenfield investment.”

But this is normal at this stage in the cycle, he said, referencing a similar pattern in the 2000s. In that period, it took years before investors turned more serious on the space.

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