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The occurrence of a recession-like decline in commodity prices in 1984–86 during the upswing of the business cycle has raised concerns about the nature and causes of the decline—in particular, whether the causes may be related more to long-term structural factors than to short-term, reversible factors. For example, it has been recently stated that “the primary-products economy has come ‘uncoupled’ from the industrial economy” (Drucker (1986)) and that “economic growth is no longer accompanied by increased consumption of basic materials” (Larson, Ross, and Williams (1986)). The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of the causes of the recent decline in commodity prices in order to develop a better understanding of its underlying nature.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

A far-reaching commitment to provide increased debt relief to the poorest developing countries was endorsed by the governors of the World Bank and the IMF at their fifty-fourth Annual Meetings, held in Washington, D.C. from September 28 to September 30. The governors also welcomed the progress many countries have made in recovering from the financial crises that had affected their economies in 1997-98 and early 1999, even though in a number of cases deep problems still remain.