Wired up

Why copper prices are gleaming

Good morning, metallurgy masters. This is your Stock Market Rundown for March 27th, 2024. Thanks for hanging out with me today. Let’s dig in:


Your microwave, your Tesla, and the french horn you played in high school band. What do these things have in common? They rely on copper to function.

Copper’s status as a key industrial input and bellwether for the global economy earned it the Wall Street nickname “Doctor Copper”, thanks to how its volatile price predicts shifting economic trends. And the green transition makes it even more critical. 

When it comes to conducting electricity, copper is the Leonard Bernstein of the periodic table. That makes it a must-have for solar panels and wind turbines. With China aiming to make wind and solar 40% of its generation capacity by the end of this year, the Middle Kingdom will require a lot of the red metal.

Electric vehicles are copper-hungry, too—they use three times as much copper as gas-powered vehicles. So if more drivers are gonna get out of their Suburbans and into a brand-new 2024 Cybertruck, the copper must flow.

Recently the copper price has surged to the highest prices in nearly a year, spurred by supply constraints. Mining giants are scrambling to add capacity, given that Wall Street analysts expect demand for copper to double by 2035.

New mines are in progress worldwide, but one is close to home: a megaproject in Arizona that will yield 85,000 tons of copper per year. Okay, nobody wants an open-pit mine in their backyard, but given that it’s 160 miles from Phoenix, it’s not going to ruin anybody’s scenic view.

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  • Elon Musk doesn’t just have a ketamine habit and a rap sheet of securities fraud charges—apparently, he’s also James Bond. SpaceX is building a network of spy satellites for the US government. 

  • Layoffs watch: the parent company of Chrysler is laying off 400 workers due to “competitive pressures”. Is that code for “we taught a robot to do your job”?

  • Elsewhere in autos, things aren’t quite as grim: the CEO of Mercedes doubled his pay in 2023, thanks to a big bonus. Maybe now he can spring for that Maybach.

  • Uber and Lyft are leaving Minneapolis due to a new city rule forcing them to pay drivers minimum wage. Given the paltry pay Uber drivers get, I tip well—unless the driver sings along with the radio. Sir, you are not Bad Bunny… please focus on the traffic.

And we're done for today, respected peers; let's reconvene tomorrow morning at the usual hour. Yours in capitalism, The Axe

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