Research ArticleCOMPLEX SYSTEMS

Systemic trade risk of critical resources

Science Advances  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 10, e1500522
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500522

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Abstract

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the role of strongly interconnected markets in causing systemic instability has been increasingly acknowledged. Trade networks of commodities are susceptible to cascades of supply shocks that increase systemic trade risks and pose a threat to geopolitical stability. We show that supply risk, scarcity, and price volatility of nonfuel mineral resources are intricately connected with the structure of the worldwide trade networks spanned by these resources. At the global level, we demonstrate that the scarcity of a resource is closely related to the susceptibility of the trade network with respect to cascading shocks. At the regional level, we find that, to some extent, region-specific price volatility and supply risk can be understood by centrality measures that capture systemic trade risk. The resources associated with the highest systemic trade risk indicators are often those that are produced as by-products of major metals. We identify significant strategic shortcomings in the management of systemic trade risk, in particular in the European Union.

Keywords
  • systemic risk
  • critical resources
  • network effects
  • trade risk
  • non-fuel mineral resources

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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