Business lessons of the aughts ought not to be ignored

Mar 31, 2011 | 07:00 PM | John Ambrosia

The past decade has been an interesting one for the scrap industry, to say the least. Demand has blossomed, prices have soared and profit margins for the most part have been good.

Yet just a little more than two years ago, markets were in a state of near-panic after domestic mill productivity plunged to its lowest point in history and export demand nosedived. No one then thought that prices would soon rebound to historically high levels, but yet that’s where they are today.

Ferrous scrap prices are the best ever for a first quarter, well ahead of the same period in the boom year of 2008 (though to be fair, April 2008 began the second quarter with a huge increase in what turned out to be a run-up to all-time-high prices; such a dramatic repeat performance seems doubtful this year).

Similar fortunes also are true, to take just a few examples, for used beverage cans, No. 1 brass mill copper and stainless 304 solids and clips, which this year have either reached average annualized all-time highs (aluminum and copper scrap) or come close to them (stainless steel scrap).....

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