Types Of Commodities All commodities are fungible, but not all commodities are created the same. Generally speaking, investors break commodities down into two categories: "soft" and "hard." Soft Commodities Soft commodities are typically grown, while hard commodities are typically mined or extracted. Many soft commodities are subject to spoilage, which can create huge volatility in the short term; if you're sitting on 30,000 pounds of cocoa beans and the price drops, you might have to dump them onto the market whether you want to or not. Producers are often large players in the "softs" market. Hard Commodities "Hard" commodities are typically mined from the ground or taken from other natural resources, e.g., gold, oil, aluminum. Because "hard" commodities are easier to handle than most "softs," and because they are more integrated into the industrial process, most investors focus on these products. Emerging Commodities We cover some of these emerging commodities in depth in Hard Assets University 202. Next Up?
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Bits or pieces? On mapping and the evolution axis For a long time, I've been using maps of industries, businesses and systems to determine gameplay, management, learning of economic forces and how to manipulate markets. The map has two axis - one of value chain (which represents a recursive set of needs from user needs to supplier needs) and the other of evolution. See figure 1. Figure 1 - a map of HS2 The first maps I produced were in 2005 and at that time whilst I suspected and had examples of a pattern for evolution (from the genesis of an act to commodity provision) , I actually had no way of describing why it occurred. Figure 2 - Different diffusion curves for maturing instances of the same activity The solution to the problem occurred during a chance set of conversations in which I noticed that whilst people could agree whether something was a commodity when it came to products and something novel (i.e. the genesis of an act) then disagreements abounded. Figure 3 - The Stacey Matrix Figure 4 - type of articles Added 27th July 2014
Everything evolves ... Everything, by which I mean :-every activity (what we do)every practice (how we do something)every mental model (how we make sense of it) ... evolves from chaotic (poorly understood, rare) to more linear (well understood, commonplace). This manifests itself in several ways. Hence :- For activities we have the evolution from genesis to custom built examples to product (with rental services) to commodity (with utility services).For practices we have the evolution from novel to emerging to good to best practice (aka Cynefin framework)For data we have the evolution from unmodeled (e.g. we don't know what the structure is and hence we call it unstructured) to modelled.For every scientific pursuit we have the evolution from concept to hypothesis to theory to universally accepted. However, I've been asked a couple of times recently about chaotic to linear, so I thought I'd add a number of graphs which outline the changes and then summarise in the last two.