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The Simple Economics of Commodity Price Speculation

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  • Christopher R. Knittel
  • Robert S. Pindyck

Abstract

The price of crude oil never exceeded $40 per barrel until mid-2004. By July 2008 it peaked at $145 and by late 2008 it fell to $30 before increasing to $110 in 2011. Are speculators partly to blame for these price changes? Using a simple model of supply and demand in the cash and storage markets, we determine whether speculation is consistent with data on production, inventory changes, and convenience yields. We focus on crude oil, but our approach can be applied to other commodities. We show speculation had little, if any, effect on oil prices. (JEL G13, G18, G23, G31, Q35, Q38)

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher R. Knittel & Robert S. Pindyck, 2016. "The Simple Economics of Commodity Price Speculation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 85-110, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:8:y:2016:i:2:p:85-110
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.20140033
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • Q35 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Hydrocarbon Resources
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)

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