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Theory of storage, inventory and volatility in the LME base metals

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  • Geman, Hélyette
  • Smith, William O.
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    Abstract

    The theory of storage, as related to commodities, makes two predictions involving the quantity of the commodity held in inventory. When inventory is low (i.e. a situation of scarcity), spot prices will exceed futures prices, and spot price volatility will exceed futures price volatility. Conversely, during periods of no scarcity, both spot prices and spot price volatility will remain relatively subdued. We test these predictions for the six base metals traded on the London Metal Exchange (aluminium, copper, lead, nickel, tin and zinc), and find strong validation for the theory. Including Chinese inventories reported by the Shanghai Futures Exchange strengthens the relationship further. We also introduce the concepts of excess volatility, inventory-implied spot price and inventory-implied spot volatility and illustrate some applications.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Resources Policy.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 18-28

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:38:y:2013:i:1:p:18-28

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/30467

    Related research

    Keywords: Working curve; Storage; Base metals; Inventory; Volatility; Convenience yield; Futures curve;

    References

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    1. Pindyck, Robert S., 1990. "Inventories and the short-run dynamics of commodity prices," Working papers 3133-90., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. Botterud, Audun & Kristiansen, Tarjei & Ilic, Marija D., 2010. "The relationship between spot and futures prices in the Nord Pool electricity market," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 967-978, September.
    3. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1988. " Business Cycles and the Behavior of Metals Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(5), pages 1075-93, December.
    4. Anonymous, 1934. "Price Relations Between May and New-Crop Wheat Futures at Chicago Since 1885," Wheat Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, issue 05, February.
    5. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-54, May-June.
    6. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1987. "Commodity Futures Prices: Some Evidence on Forecast Power, Premiums,and the Theory of Storage," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 55-73, January.
    7. Hélyette Geman & Vu-Nhat Nguyen, 2005. "Soybean Inventory and Forward Curve Dynamics," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(7), pages 1076-1091, July.
    8. Ng, Victor K & Pirrong, Stephen Craig, 1994. "Fundamentals and Volatility: Storage, Spreads, and the Dynamics of Metals Prices," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67(2), pages 203-30, April.
    9. Working, Holbrook, 1933. "Price Relations Between July And September Wheat Futures At Chicago Since 1885," Wheat Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, issue 06, March.
    10. Geman, Hélyette & Ohana, Steve, 2009. "Forward curves, scarcity and price volatility in oil and natural gas markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 576-585, July.
    11. Clinton Watkins & Michael McAleer, 2006. "Pricing of non-ferrous metals futures on the London Metal Exchange," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(12), pages 853-880.
    12. Brunetti, Celso & Gilbert, Christopher L., 1995. "Metals price volatility, 1972-1995," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 237-254, December.
    13. Nguyen, Vu-Nhat & Geman, Hélyette, 2005. "Soybean Inventory and Forward Curve Dynamics," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/1937, Paris Dauphine University.
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    Cited by:
    1. Stepanek, Christian & Walter, Matthias & Rathgeber, Andreas, 2013. "Is the convenience yield a good indicator of a commodity's supply risk?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 395-405.
    2. Todorova, Neda & Worthington, Andrew & Souček, Michael, 2014. "Realized volatility spillovers in the non-ferrous metal futures market," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 21-31.

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