Why Dead Trees Are ‘the Hottest Commodity on the Planet’

Date: Wednesday, April 28th, 2021
Source: The Atlantic

Bitcoin? Blasé. Gold? Going out of style. “The hottest commodity on the planet,” according to Dustin Jalbert, an economist at the market-research firm Fastmarkets, is lumber.

In North America, lumber is typically traded in units of 1,000 board feet; builders need about 15,000 board feet, on average, to construct a single-family home. From 2015 to 2019, lumber traded at $381 for 1,000 board feet, according to Fastmarkets. This month, it reached an all-time high of $1,104 for the same amount. The lumber shortage has added at least $24,000 to the cost of a new home, according to the National Association of Homebuilders.On its face, the surge in lumber’s price has a simple explanation: Demand for wood is really high right now. Over the past year, Americans have bought new homes, started renovations, and embarked on DIY projects at stratospheric rates. But the lumber story is not simply about record-breaking demand. The spike has hit just as lumber supply is dwindling and undergoing a major transition, analysts and scientists told me.


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