The economic principle of substitution creates a risk of investing in any commodity. As prices for a particular commodity climb, buyers will seek cheaper substitutions, if available. For example, cheaper metals such as aluminum often substitute for copper in many industrial applications. Similarly, farmers may substitute between corn, oats, wheat and barley as livestock feed based on price.
Weather can play an important role in determining many commodity prices. In the agricultural sector, prolonged drought conditions or excessive rainfall can limit crop yields and cause prices to rise. In the energy sector, hurricanes, storms or extremely cold weather can curtail drilling or refining activity and create supply shortfalls. Severe winter weather can create excessive demand for heating and cause big increases in prices of commodities such as natural gas and heating oil. Extremely warm weather, on the other hand, could raise demand for electricity needed to power air conditioning units.
Fast-forward to June 2018. Janette’s 41 years of perfect timing earned an average annual return of 11.4 percent for a cool $8.2 million. No-timing Jackpot was close behind, with an 11.1 percent return and $7.8 million – still great. Even terrible-timing Jebediah got a 10.8 percent return – turning his $410,000 in contributions into $6.7 million. Sure, it's rewarding enough, but lagging little brother, no-timing Jackpot by $1.1 million is a high price to pay for bad timing.
And the longer the time frame — through highs and lows — the greater the chances of a positive outcome. Indeed, over the past 90 years, through December 31, 2017, 94% of 10-year periods have been positive ones. Investors who have stayed in the market through occasional (and inevitable) periods of declining stock prices historically have been rewarded for their long-term outlook.