Commodities markets, both historically and in modern times, have had tremendous economic impact on nations and people. The impact of commodity markets throughout history is still not fully known. Shortages on critical commodities have sparked wars throughout history (such as in World War II, when Japan ventured into foreign lands to secure oil and rubber), while oversupply can have a devastating impact on a region by devaluing the prices of core commodities.
Some plays are more popular and sensible in nature. Volatile or bearish markets typically find scared investors scrambling to transfer money to precious metals such as gold, which has historically been viewed as a reliable, dependable metal with conveyable value. Investors losing money in the stock market can create nice returns by trading precious metals. Precious metals can also be used as a hedge against high inflation or periods of currency devaluation.