A recent report published by IMF economists Serhan Cevik and Tahsin Saadi Sedik investigates the influence of advanced and emerging market economies on commodity prices by analysing two very different commodities and assessing the impacts of global supply and demand. Significantly, the IMF chose fine wine as one of the two commodities for their analysis (the other being oil), thus adding weight to fine wine's credibility as an investable alternative asset class. The researchers used the Liv-ex Fine Wine Investables Index to track historical changes in fine wine prices.
According to their working paper (A Barrel of Oil or a Bottle of Wine: How Do Global Growth Dynamics Affect Commodity Prices?), demand plays a critical role in determining the prices of both commodities, "while production constraints have the expected, but limited effect”. The paper also finds that it is emerging economies – such as China – that have the most marked effect on pricing. One of the closest correlations found is that between fine wine prices and industrial production in emerging economies (which is five times higher than that found for the same measure in advanced economies).
During their research, the economists also discovered a striking similarity between the behaviour of oil and fine wine prices, "with a correlation of over 90 per cent during the sample period”. This secondary finding has prompted many critics to question fine wine's value as a portfolio diversification tool. (Read FT’s take on the IMF's paper here.)
On the other hand, the study's conclusion that fine wine prices are closely correlated with industrial production in emerging economies indicates that fine wine as an asset class is a geared play into emerging market growth. This can hardly be overstated – particularly considering the phenomenal growth that these markets have seen in recent years. Forbes Magazine's latest rich list reveals that emerging markets such as China now boast a growing number of billionaires - all of whom are no doubt interested in drinking wine rather than oil.