The good news for U.S. consumers and manufacturers is that inflation is benign. The Consumer Price Index for the Northeast, for example, shows only a 0.7% increase year over year.

This is largely due to continued falling commodity prices.

The bad news is that these falling prices are rattling markets, as they're also a sign of weak demand.

I frequently check IndexMundi, as its list of 90 commodities captures the breadth of the subject, tracking everything from soybeans to nickel and natural gas to lumber.

Of the 90 commodities listed, 71 have fallen over the past 12 months--53 of them by double digits. Only two--tea (+41%) and cocoa beans (+14%) have seen double-digit increases.

In the past month alone, 51 commodities have fallen, with 11 seeing double-digit declines. Again, only two -- fish (+15%) and soybean oil (+10%) -- have seen double-digit increases.

These are the effects of the slowdown of the biggest raw commodity user outside the United States: China.
The biggest losers over the 12 months are not crude oil (-40%), but nickel (-45%), iron ore (-42%) and diesel, heating oil, natural gas, and Russian natural gas, all at -44%.

Over the past month, heating oil (-21%), diesel (-19%), and jet fuel (-18%) lead the pack of largest declines.

It's obvious the adjustment in commodity prices is widespread, and while oil-related resources are taking big hits, they are not exclusive in declines. Notably, manufacturing inputs--raw materials, such as metals--are seeing major negative price adjustments.

These are the effects of the slowdown of the biggest raw commodity user outside the United States: China.

This news is certainly trouble for big commodity producers.

Whereas the U.S. overall is likely to avoid recession over the next 12 months, commodity-intensive states such as North Dakota and Oklahoma may well see a recession. And big agricultural areas in the Midwest and South have heightened risks.

Globally, the Middle East, Russia, Brazil, Chile, and Australia are struggling with these price shocks.

What does all of this mean for your business?

If your firm has exposure to these hard-hit regions, take care.

On the other hand, if you're mainly a consumer of these products, you have them on sale.


Pete Gioia is an economist with CBIA. Follow him on Twitter @CTEconomist.