(Image: Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)

Everyone understands the link between commodity prices and geopolitics, even if they don’t know it. When things go south in Saudi Arabia, Iran or Russia, prices at the pump go up. That’s because of the outsized role those countries play in the oil market. 

But there are other commodity markets that people only pay attention to when it affects their wallets in surprising fashion. This summer, for instance, coffee prices spiked due to climate change and poor Arabica harvests in big coffee-producing regions.

West African countries have whipsawed the price of cacao, making policy changes that protect the livelihood of small farmers, which affects the price of chocolate. What you pay for your smartphone or electric car depends in part on what happens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which overwhelmingly dominates the global production of cobalt.