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Copper Prices

Jul 13, 2023

In today’s episode, we’ll examine an article titled ‘Copper is unexpectedly getting cheaper’, published in the Economist magazine on July 6th, 2023. We will see why copper is getting cheaper, and you’ll learn some useful vocabulary along the way.

Let’s get started. As I mentioned, the title of our article is ‘Copper is unexpectedly getting cheaper‘, and if you will allow me to summarize, the overall message of the article is that while copper prices may rise in the future due to the demands of the green economy, for now, the prices are lower than last year’s record high and likely to remain so. To understand why prices are expected to stay put for a while,  let’s explore seven key verbs used in the article: to peak, to fade, to flag, to dent, to snub, to jolt, and to ramp up.

Let’s dive into these verbs using sentences directly from the article…

One of the excerpts from the article reads: “Having peaked at $10,700 a tonne in March last year, copper prices at the London Metal Exchange have dropped by around 10% since January, to $8,300 a tonne.” The verb ‘to peak’ here means to reach the highest, often temporary, point. So, when they say copper prices peaked, they mean it reached its highest price.

In another section, we see the sentence: “The post-covid rebound in China, which consumes as much as 55% of global supply, is already fading.” The verb ‘to fade’ means to slowly disappear or become less. Therefore, when they say the rebound is fading, they’re suggesting that the quick recovery after COVID is slowing down or becoming less intense. So, less demand for copper.

Then we have the phrase: “Growth is also flagging in the West as rising interest rates bite.” Here, ‘to flag’ means to decrease or lose strength or intensity. This means economic growth in the West is slowing down. Why? Well, the impact of high interest rates.

Moving forward, the article states: “Over the winter a series of disruptions—from protests in Peru to floods in Indonesia—dented global production.” Our fourth verb is ‘to dent,’ which means to cause a small drop or decrease in something. So, the disruptions last winter caused a drop in global production. Those problems have been resolved, so production is up and supply is strong. That’s downward pressure on prices.

Later on in the article, we come across the verb ‘to snub.’ The article says: “… financial investors are snubbing copper.” To ‘snub’ means to ignore or to refuse to give attention to something. Therefore, financial investors are ignoring copper as an investment opportunity. In fact, investors are moving toward fixed-income securities, which are proving to offer  a better return.

Our sixth verb, ‘to jolt,’ is used as follows: “As the energy transition speeds up, it should give a jolt to demand.” ‘To jolt’ means to cause a sudden or sharp increase. The energy transition speeding up will, therefore, cause a sharp increase in demand.

Further to that point,  we have the verb ‘to ramp up.’ An excerpt says: “Sales of electric vehicles (EVs), which are already rising, are expected to ramp up significantly in the coming years.” ‘To ramp up’ means to increase or rise quickly. So, sales of EVs are expected to increase significantly in the coming years, and that could drive up copper prices in the future, but under current conditions, it looks like copper prices will continue to stay relatively stable.

Elevate Your English with ‘Economists in Action’

Before we wrap up, I’d like to mention my upcoming course, ‘Economists in Action’. This twelve-lesson course will help you master the English language needed for tasks such as describing trends in data, forecasting future conditions, explaining the impact of policies, presenting data to support arguments, negotiating an agreement, and comparing and contrasting trends. This video course is a great opportunity to boost your economic English language skills. I will have more news on that shortly.

To recap: ‘To peak’ means to reach the highest point, ‘to fade’ means to slowly disappear, ‘to flag’ means to decrease in intensity, ‘to dent’ means to cause a small drop in something, ‘to snub’ means to ignore or reject, ‘to jolt’ means to cause a sharp increase, and ‘to ramp up’ means to increase quickly. Remember to check out our show notes at for more practice.

Great job making it to the end of this podcast. Your dedication to improving your English skills is commendable. Until next time, happy learning and keep an eye on those copper prices!


Photo credit: Andrew Kliatskyi in Unsplash


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