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The Dynamics of Commodity Spot and Futures Markets: A Primer


  • Robert S. Pindyck


I discuss the short-run dynamics of commodity prices, production, and inventories, as well as the sources and effects of market volatility. I explain how prices, rates of production, and inventory levels are interrelated, and are determined via equilibrium in two interconnected markets: a cash market for spot purchases and sales of the commodity, and a market for storage. I show how equilibrium in these markets affects and is affected by changes in the level of price volatility. I also explain the role and behavior of commodity futures markets, and the relationship between spot prices futures prices, and inventory behavior. I illustrate these ideas with data for the petroleum complex - crude oil, heating oil, and gasoline - over the past two decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert S. Pindyck, 2001. "The Dynamics of Commodity Spot and Futures Markets: A Primer," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-30.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2001v22-03-a01

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General


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