Steel Products Prices North America

Final Thoughts

Does anyone think the “new normal” will be normal? In fact, has anyone even mentioned the word “normal” since 2020? I haven’t consulted the Merriam-Webster, but by this point they might’ve changed the definition.

Black Swans. Mini-Swans. Bracket-busters. Good old fashioned Force Majeure. There is no shortage of terms to show that unexpected big changes can happen fast, sometimes all at once.


Right now SMU is conducting its Steel 101 program at Cleveland-Cliffs’ Cleveland Works. An integrated mill on the Great Lakes in Cleveland with two blast furnaces. Though modern and up to date, it points to a solid tradition of American steelmaking. But what those participants will learn about encompasses the changing industrial landscape.

Green steel. Net zero. Carbon neutral. Big changes are afoot, happening in real time, and set to occur in the space of a generation. Even the internal combustion engine is on the chopping block.

Add to that global political chaos, supply chain disruptions, you name it. Any way you slice it, the 21st century is not looking like the end of history. We may be more sophisticated at managing risk than in times past, and have the computers to prove it, but that certainly doesn’t mean risk doesn’t exist.

 Amidst all this change and turmoil, a good place to look for comfort is in SMU’s Steel Buyers Sentiment Index. What I’ve learned covering it over the last few months is simple. If the medical community truly wishes to find a cure for depression, they should start studying the participants of our survey.

Positive readings run from +10 to +100. Negative readings run from -10 to -100. A reading of “0” (+/- 10) indicates a neutral sentiment (or slightly optimistic or pessimistic). On April 2, 2020, the Current Buyers Sentiment reading stood at -8. That’s as low as it went.

Perhaps you remember April 2020. We weren’t quite used to the world where everything can change at any moment at that point. Now that same reading is at +79. Prices have shot up and up. Many say we could be at an inflection point. At least it feels that way. Fundamentals—supply and demand. We’ll see where the market goes and hold our breath for the next shoe to drop. It’s not like there’s a tumultuous 2024 election on the horizon that could shake everything up.

By Ethan Bernard,

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