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How important are real interest rates for oil prices?

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  • Arora, Vipin
  • Tanner, Matthew

Abstract

Using a recursive vector autoregression (VAR), this paper considers the relation between the U.S. real interest rate and the real oil price. Theoretically, as outlined in Hotelling (1931) and Working (1949), a lower real interest rate results in reduced production and increased storage, implying a higher oil price. The results presented here show that the robustness of this relationship depends crucially on how the real interest rate is calculated, and the time-frame of the sample. Consistent with earlier studies, the oil price falls with an innovation to the ex-ante U.S. real interest rate. However, this is not true if the real interest rate is calculated ex-post. In this case, the oil price only falls in response to an innovation in short-term U.S. real interest rates (three months or less). Additionally, the response of the oil price to longer-term ex-ante U.S. real interest rates must include the period through 2006 for this relationship to appear. The oil price consistently responds to innovations in short-term rates throughout the entire sample. We draw two conclusions from the results. The first is that the oil price is consistently responsive to short-term U.S. real interest rates, underlying the importance of storage. Second, oil prices have become more responsive to longer-term U.S. real interest rates. The reasons behind this change are unclear and require further study.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 35883.

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Date of creation: 23 Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:35883

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Keywords: Oil price; Real interest rate; VAR; Hotelling; Storage;

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  1. Ke Tang & Wei Xiong, 2010. "Index Investment and Financialization of Commodities," NBER Working Papers 16385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Christopher Reicher & Johannes Utlaut, 2010. "The relationship between oil prices and long-term interest rates," Kiel Working Papers 1637, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  3. Hamilton, James D & Herrera, Ana Maria, 2004. "Oil Shocks and Aggregate Macroeconomic Behavior: The Role of Monetary Policy: Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(2), pages 265-86, April.
  4. Ansgar Belke & Ingo G. Bordon & Torben W. Hendricks, 2009. "Global Liquidity and Commodity Prices: A Cointegrated VAR Approach for OECD Countries," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 898, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Margaret E. Slade & Henry Thille, 2009. "Whither Hotelling: Tests of the Theory of Exhaustible Resources," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 239-259, 09.
  6. Bernanke, Ben S & Gertler, Mark & Watson, Mark W, 2004. "Oil Shocks and Aggregate Macroeconomic Behavior: The Role of Monetary Policy: Reply," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(2), pages 287-91, April.
  7. Vipin Arora, 2011. "Arbitrage and the Price of Oil," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2011-535, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  8. Q. Farooq Akram, 2008. "Commodity prices, interest rates and the dollar," Working Paper 2008/12, Norges Bank.
  9. Vipin Arora, 2011. "Asset Value, Interest Rates and Oil Price Volatility," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2011-536, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  10. Shu-ping Shi & Vipin Arora, 2011. "An Application Of Models Of Speculative Behaviour To Oil Prices," CAMA Working Papers 2011-11, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  11. Anzuini, Alessio & Lombardi, Marco J. & Pagano, Patrizio, 2010. "The impact of monetary policy shocks on commodity prices," Working Paper Series 1232, European Central Bank.
  12. Ron Alquist & Lutz Kilian & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2011. "Forecasting the Price of Oil," Working Papers 11-15, Bank of Canada.
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