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Rational destabilizing speculation, positive feedback trading, and the oil bubble of 2008

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  • Tokic, Damir
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    Abstract

    This article examines how the interaction of different participants in the crude oil futures markets affects the crude oil price efficiency. Normally, the commercial market participants, such as oil producers and oil consumers, act as arbitrageurs and ensure that the price of crude oil remains within the fundamental value range. However, institutional investors that invest in crude oil to diversify their portfolios and/or hedge inflation can destabilize the interaction among commercial participants and liquidity-providing speculators. We argue that institutional investors can impose limits to arbitrage, particularly during the financial crisis when the investment demand for commodities is particularly strong. In support, we show that commercials hedgers had significantly reduced their short positions leading to the 2008 oil bubble--they were potentially aggressively offsetting their short hedges. As a result, by essentially engaging in a positive feedback trading, commercial hedgers at least contributed to 'the 2008 oil bubble'. These findings have been mainly overlooked by the existing research.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (April)
    Pages: 2051-2061

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:4:p:2051-2061

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

    Related research

    Keywords: Positive-feedback trading The 2008 oil bubble Commercial hedgers;

    References

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    1. De Long, J Bradford, et al, 1990. " Positive Feedback Investment Strategies and Destabilizing Rational Speculation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(2), pages 379-95, June.
    2. Tokic, Damir, 2010. "The 2008 oil bubble: Causes and consequences," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6009-6015, October.
    3. Dwight R. Sanders & Scott H. Irwin & Robert P. Merrin, 2010. "The Adequacy of Speculation in Agricultural Futures Markets: Too Much of a Good Thing?," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 77-94.
    4. Derek Headey & Shenggen Fan, 2008. "Anatomy of a crisis: the causes and consequences of surging food prices," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 375-391, November.
    5. Dufour, Alfonso & Engle, Robert F, 1999. "Time and the Price Impact of a Trade," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt62c0h04j, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
    6. Stefan Reitz & Ulf Slopek, 2009. "Non-Linear Oil Price Dynamics: A Tale of Heterogeneous Speculators?," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10, pages 270-283, 08.
    7. Cifarelli, Giulio & Paladino, Giovanna, 2010. "Oil price dynamics and speculation: A multivariate financial approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 363-372, March.
    8. Kesicki, Fabian, 2010. "The third oil price surge - What's different this time?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 1596-1606, March.
    9. James D. Hamilton, 2009. "Understanding Crude Oil Prices," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 179-206.
    10. Louis K. C. Chan & Jason Karceski & Josef Lakonishok, 2003. "The Level and Persistence of Growth Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(2), pages 643-684, 04.
    11. David Porter & Vernon Smith, 1994. "Stock market bubbles in the laboratory," Applied Mathematical Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 111-128.
    12. Kaufmann, Robert K. & Ullman, Ben, 2009. "Oil prices, speculation, and fundamentals: Interpreting causal relations among spot and futures prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 550-558, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. Silvério, Renan & Szklo, Alexandre, 2012. "The effect of the financial sector on the evolution of oil prices: Analysis of the contribution of the futures market to the price discovery process in the WTI spot market," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1799-1808.
    2. Goldemberg, José & Schaeffer, Roberto & Szklo, Alexandre & Lucchesi, Rodrigo, 2014. "Oil and natural gas prospects in South America: Can the petroleum industry pave the way for renewables in Brazil?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 58-70.
    3. Sophie van Huellen, 2013. "Price Non-Convergence in Commodities: A Case Study of the Wheat Conundrum," Working Papers 185, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
    4. Cifarelli, Giulio, 2013. "Smooth transition regime shifts and oil price dynamics," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 160-167.

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