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Forty Years of Oil Price Fluctuations: Why the Price of Oil May Still Surprise Us

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  • Christiane Baumeister
  • Lutz Kilian

Abstract

It has been 40 years since the oil crisis of 1973/74. This crisis has been one of the defining economic events of the 1970s and has shaped how many economists think about oil price shocks. In recent years, a large literature on the economic determinants of oil price fluctuations has emerged. Drawing on this literature, we first provide an overview of the causes of all major oil price fluctuations between 1973 and 2014. We then discuss why oil price fluctuations remain difficult to predict, despite economists' improved understanding of oil markets. Unexpected oil price fluctuations are commonly referred to as oil price shocks. We document that, in practice, consumers, policymakers, financial market participants, and economists may have different oil price expectations, and that, what may be surprising to some, need not be equally surprising to others.

Suggested Citation

  • Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2016. "Forty Years of Oil Price Fluctuations: Why the Price of Oil May Still Surprise Us," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 139-160, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:30:y:2016:i:1:p:139-60
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.30.1.139
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Tuomas Komulainen & ) & Johanna Lukkarila, 2003. "What drives financial crises in emerging markets?," Macroeconomics 0304010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Kilian, Lutz & Lee, Thomas K., 2014. "Quantifying the speculative component in the real price of oil: The role of global oil inventories," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 71-87.
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    10. Christiane Baumeister & Gert Peersman, 2013. "The Role Of Time‐Varying Price Elasticities In Accounting For Volatility Changes In The Crude Oil Market," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(7), pages 1087-1109, November.
    11. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2014. "What Central Bankers Need To Know About Forecasting Oil Prices," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 869-889, August.
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    15. Robert B. Barsky & Lutz Kilian, 2002. "Do We Really Know that Oil Caused the Great Stagflation? A Monetary Alternative," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2001, Volume 16, pages 137-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q35 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Hydrocarbon Resources
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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