Niall Ferguson: Copper Is King

Roundup: Historians' Take

Niall Ferguson is a Harvard professor and Newsweek columnist.

Copperfinger doesn’t have the same ring as Goldfinger. Nor would you be very impressed by a man with a copper gun.

Copper isn’t glamorous. Unlike gold, it is not likely to be recommended as an investment by Glenn Beck. Yet, before and after the financial crisis, copper has been one of the world economy’s star performers.

Sure, you were smart if you bought gold at the bottom of the financial crisis, back in February 2009. With gold touching a record $1,500 an ounce last week, you’re up 75 percent. But if you’d bought copper, you’d be up 181 percent.

Today the world’s copper mines are booming. I spent several hours last Tuesday sweltering nearly a mile underground at the huge Konkola mine near Chin-go-la in Zambia. It’s a powerful symbol of the new economic world order. The miners are Zambians. The technical guys are (white) South Africans. The owners and managers are Indians....

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