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Disentangling Corn Price Volatility: The Role of Global Demand, Speculation, and Energy


  • McPhail, Lihong Lu
  • Du, Xiaodong
  • Muhammad, Andrew


Despite extensive literature on contributing factors to the high commodity prices and volatility in the recent years, few have examined these causal factors together in one analysis.We quantify empirically the relative importance of three factors: global demand, speculation, and energy prices/policy in explaining corn price volatility. A structural vector auto-regression model is developed and variance decomposition is applied to measure the contribution of each factor in explaining corn price variation. We find that speculation is important, but only in the short run. However, in the long run, energy is the most important followed by global demand.

Suggested Citation

  • McPhail, Lihong Lu & Du, Xiaodong & Muhammad, Andrew, 2012. "Disentangling Corn Price Volatility: The Role of Global Demand, Speculation, and Energy," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 44(3), pages 1-10, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:joaaec:130287
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.130287

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xiaodong Du and Lihong Lu McPhail, 2012. "Inside the Black Box: the Price Linkage and Transmission between Energy and Agricultural Markets," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
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    Cited by:

    1. Etienne, Xiaoli L., 2015. "Financialization of Agricultural Commodity Markets: Do Financial Data Help to Forecast Agricultural Prices?," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205124, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Urom, Christian & Anochiwa, Lasbrey & Yuni, Denis & Idume, Gabriel, 2019. "Asymmetric linkages among precious metals, global equity and bond yields: The role of volatility and business cycle factors," The Journal of Economic Asymmetries, Elsevier, vol. 20(C).
    3. Doshi, Amar & Pascoe, Sean & Coglan, Louisa & Rainey, Thomas J., 2016. "Economic and policy issues in the production of algae-based biofuels: A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 329-337.
    4. Hao, Na & Colson, Gregory & Karali, Berna & Wetzstein, Michael E., 2013. "Food before Biodiesel Fuel?," 2013 Annual Meeting, February 2-5, 2013, Orlando, Florida 143078, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    5. Sukati, Mphumuzi, 2013. "Measuring Maize Price Volatility in Swaziland using ARCH/GARCH approach," MPRA Paper 51840, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Qiu, Cheng & Colson, Gregory & Wetzstein, Michael, 2014. "An ethanol blend wall shift is prone to increase petroleum gasoline demand," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 160-165.
    7. Bohl, Martin T. & Stephan, Patrick M., 2013. "Does Futures Speculation Destabilize Spot Prices? New Evidence for Commodity Markets," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1-21, November.
    8. Adjemian, Michael K. & Bruno, Valentina & Robe, Michel A. & Wallen, Jonathan, 2017. "What Drives Volatility Expectations in Grain and Oilseed Markets?," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258452, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. Wilson, Norbert L.W., 2012. "Discussion: Causes of Agricultural and Food Price Inflation and Volatility," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 44(3), pages 1-3, August.
    10. Cao, A.N.Q. & Grosche, S.-C., 2018. "Financial and Commodity-specific expectations in soybean futures markets," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277538, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    11. Qiu, Cheng & Colson, Gregory & Escalante, Cesar & Wetzstein, Michael, 2012. "Considering macroeconomic indicators in the food before fuel nexus," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 2021-2028.
    12. Bernhard Brümmer & Olaf Korn & Kristina Schlüßler & Tinoush Jamali Jaghdani, 2016. "Volatility in Oilseeds and Vegetable Oils Markets: Drivers and Spillovers," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 685-705, September.
    13. Tan Ngoc Vu & Duc Hong Vo & Chi Minh Ho & Loan Thi-Hong Van, 2019. "Modeling the Impact of Agricultural Shocks on Oil Price in the US: A New Approach," Journal of Risk and Financial Management, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(3), pages 1-27, September.
    14. Karoline Krätschell & Torsten Schmidt, 2017. "Long-run waves or short-run fluctuations – what establishes the correlation between oil and food prices?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(54), pages 5535-5546, November.
    15. Hao, Na & Colson, Gregory & Seong, Byeongchan & Park, Cheolwoo & Wetzstein, Michael, 2015. "Drought, ethanol, and livestock," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 301-307.
    16. Jeremy G. Weber & Nigel Key & Erik O’Donoghue, 2016. "Does Federal Crop Insurance Make Environmental Externalities from Agriculture Worse?," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 707-742.
    17. Ederer, Stefan & Heumesser, Christine & Staritz, Cornelia, 2013. "The role of fundamentals and financialisation in recent commodity price developments: An empirical analysis for wheat, coffee, cotton, and oil," Working Papers 42, Österreichische Forschungsstiftung für Internationale Entwicklung (ÖFSE) / Austrian Foundation for Development Research.
    18. Fretheim, Torun, 2019. "An empirical analysis of the correlation between large daily changes in grain and oil futures prices," Journal of Commodity Markets, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 66-75.
    19. Aled W. Jones & Alexander Phillips, 2016. "Historic Food Production Shocks: Quantifying the Extremes," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(5), pages 1-10, April.
    20. Haase, Marco & Seiler Zimmermann, Yvonne & Zimmermann, Heinz, 2016. "The impact of speculation on commodity futures markets – A review of the findings of 100 empirical studies," Journal of Commodity Markets, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-15.
    21. Aled Jones & Bradley Hiller, 2017. "Exploring the Dynamics of Responses to Food Production Shocks," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(6), pages 1-12, June.
    22. Etienne, Xiaoli L. & Irwin, Scott H. & Garcia, Philip, 2013. "Dissecting Corn Price Movements with Directed Acyclic Graphs," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 151279, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item



    JEL classification:

    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices
    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy


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