The earliest known paper that is still in existence was made from cotton rags around 150 AD. Around 800 AD, paper made its appearance in Egypt but was not manufactured there until 900 AD. The Moors introduced the use of paper to Europe, and around 1150, the first papermaking mill was established in Spain, followed by England in 1495, and the U.S. in 1690.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the increased usage of paper created a shortage of cotton rags, which were the only source for papermaking. The solution to this problem lead to the introduction of the ground-wood process of pulp-making in 1840 and the first chemical pulp process 10 years later.
Today, the paper and paperboard industries, including newsprint, are sensitive to the economic cycle. As the economy strengthens, paper use increases, and vice versa.
Prices - The average monthly index price (1982 = 100) for paperboard in 2007 rose 5.1% yr/yr to 201.7, continuing to recover from the 5-year low of 162.7 posted in 2003. The average monthly producer price index of standard newsprint paper in 2007 fell by -13.2% to 131.7, down from the 11-year high of 151.8 posted in 2006.
Supply - U.S. production of paper and paperboard in 2005 (latest data available) fell slightly by -0.8% yr/yr to 81.437 million metric tons. The U.S. is the world's largest producer of paper and paperboard by far, followed by Germany with 21.679 million metric tons and Canada with 19.673 million metric tons.
U.S. production of newsprint fell by -2.4% yr/yr to a record low of 414.6 metric tons per month in 2005. U.S. production of newsprint is second in the world, after Canada, which had production of 657.200 metric tons per month in 2005.