When does a normal cycle become a supercycle? Answer: when an over-excited mining promoter says it does.
During the mining boom London and the other major capitals of mining finance, Toronto, Vancouver, Perth, Sydney and New York were awash with mining promoters bearing equity.
The name of their game: sell equity into the mining boom for cash, then watch as valuations rocketed up and everyone walked away a winner. And for a while everyone was winner – and the reason they were winning was because of something called the supercycle.
This wheeze, dreamt up long ago to describe periods of major economic expansion, such as the European Industrial Revolution, was now being applied to the astonishing growth that the Chinese economy was beginning to deliver after Deng Xiaoping loosed the bonds connecting communist ideology to economic activity.
Chinese capitalism was born, and with it a commodities boom that ran for the better part of decade.
The Supercycle theory caught on with Australian mining promoters first, and then spread rapidly through the sector.
And even if cynics did scoff that this was a boom no different to any other, there was no question that valuations were soaring and soaring and plenty of money was being made.
Fast forward seven or eight years to the present, and the world looks a very different place.
The commodities supercycle has fallen out of the headlines.
Its end was flagged back in 2012, appropriately enough by an Australian Mark Ryder, cited in the well-known financial column of the Telegraph writer Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.
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