The role of trader positions in spot and futures prices for WTI
We extend the analysis of causal relations between trader positions and oil prices and the process of price discovery by estimating a cointegrating vector autoregression (CVAR) model that expands the cash-and-carry relation between spot and futures prices to quantify long- and short-run relations among oil prices, trader positions, interest rates, and oil inventories. Results indicate that oil inventories and trader positions are needed to generate cointegration between spot and futures prices. The presence of trader positions and oil inventories suggest that both play a role in price discovery. Furthermore, the cointegrating relation for price loads into the equation for both oil prices and trader positions. This suggests a bi-directional simultaneous adjustment process between oil prices and trader positions. This expands the unidirectional causal relation from oil prices to trader positions that is generated by previous studies. Additional results suggest that price discovery occurs in the market for heavily traded near-month futures contracts, but discovery for thin far-month futures markets occurs in the spot market. Together, these results suggest mechanisms by which speculation could affect oil prices but the results presented here are moot regarding their effects.
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