Prices are rising as the industry runs out of capacity

Symptom: Prices have seen a recovery because the industry is running out of capacity.

Implications for the market:

  • Prices can stay high as long as the industry is likely to be capacity constrained

  • There is some chance, though, that real prices could fall again within a few years

    • The current price recovery is fueled by new, higher levels of demand that outstripped capacity. As that capacity comes on stream, operating rates will fall, inventory levels will build, and price weakness will return (unless all competitors have decided that discounting will not move share).

    • The basic industry structure has not changed. There are still as many competitors as before the recovery.

    • And customers still show a strong willingness to move part or all of their volume to a competitor who offers a lower price.

    • As a result, when economic pressures return, any competitor offering a lower price is likely to gain volume and force the industry's real prices down again.

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Perspectives: Conclusions we have reached as a result of our long-term study and observations.