IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Rational destabilizing speculation, positive feedback trading, and the oil bubble of 2008


  • Tokic, Damir


This article examines how the interaction of different participants in the crude oil futures markets affects the crude oil price efficiency. Normally, the commercial market participants, such as oil producers and oil consumers, act as arbitrageurs and ensure that the price of crude oil remains within the fundamental value range. However, institutional investors that invest in crude oil to diversify their portfolios and/or hedge inflation can destabilize the interaction among commercial participants and liquidity-providing speculators. We argue that institutional investors can impose limits to arbitrage, particularly during the financial crisis when the investment demand for commodities is particularly strong. In support, we show that commercials hedgers had significantly reduced their short positions leading to the 2008 oil bubble--they were potentially aggressively offsetting their short hedges. As a result, by essentially engaging in a positive feedback trading, commercial hedgers at least contributed to 'the 2008 oil bubble'. These findings have been mainly overlooked by the existing research.

Suggested Citation

  • Tokic, Damir, 2011. "Rational destabilizing speculation, positive feedback trading, and the oil bubble of 2008," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 2051-2061, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:4:p:2051-2061

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. De Long, J Bradford, et al, 1990. " Positive Feedback Investment Strategies and Destabilizing Rational Speculation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(2), pages 379-395, June.
    2. Alfonso Dufour & Robert F. Engle, 2000. "Time and the Price Impact of a Trade," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(6), pages 2467-2498, December.
    3. Cifarelli, Giulio & Paladino, Giovanna, 2010. "Oil price dynamics and speculation: A multivariate financial approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 363-372, March.
    4. Bekiros, Stelios D. & Diks, Cees G.H., 2008. "The relationship between crude oil spot and futures prices: Cointegration, linear and nonlinear causality," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 2673-2685, September.
    5. Derek Headey & Shenggen Fan, 2008. "Anatomy of a crisis: the causes and consequences of surging food prices," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 375-391, November.
    6. James D. Hamilton, 2009. "Understanding Crude Oil Prices," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 179-206.
    7. Kesicki, Fabian, 2010. "The third oil price surge - What's different this time?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 1596-1606, March.
    8. Kaufmann, Robert K. & Ullman, Ben, 2009. "Oil prices, speculation, and fundamentals: Interpreting causal relations among spot and futures prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 550-558, July.
    9. Dwight R. Sanders & Scott H. Irwin & Robert P. Merrin, 2010. "The Adequacy of Speculation in Agricultural Futures Markets: Too Much of a Good Thing?," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 77-94.
    10. Louis K. C. Chan & Jason Karceski & Josef Lakonishok, 2003. "The Level and Persistence of Growth Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(2), pages 643-684, April.
    11. Tokic, Damir, 2010. "The 2008 oil bubble: Causes and consequences," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6009-6015, October.
    12. Stefan Reitz & Ulf Slopek, 2009. "Non-Linear Oil Price Dynamics: A Tale of Heterogeneous Speculators?," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10, pages 270-283, August.
    13. David Porter & Vernon Smith, 1994. "Stock market bubbles in the laboratory," Applied Mathematical Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 111-128.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Bahloul, Walid & Bouri, Abdelfettah, 2016. "The impact of investor sentiment on returns and conditional volatility in U.S. futures markets," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 89-102.
    2. repec:pje:journl:article14wini is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Heidorn, Thomas & Mokinski, Frieder & Rühl, Christoph & Schmaltz, Christian, 2015. "The impact of fundamental and financial traders on the term structure of oil," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 276-287.
    4. Silvério, Renan & Szklo, Alexandre, 2012. "The effect of the financial sector on the evolution of oil prices: Analysis of the contribution of the futures market to the price discovery process in the WTI spot market," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1799-1808.
    5. Lammerding, Marc & Stephan, Patrick & Trede, Mark & Wilfling, Bernd, 2013. "Speculative bubbles in recent oil price dynamics: Evidence from a Bayesian Markov-switching state-space approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 491-502.
    6. repec:eee:eneeco:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:508-522 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Chan, Leo H. & Nguyen, Chi M. & Chan, Kam C., 2015. "A new approach to measure speculation in the oil futures market and some policy implications," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 133-141.
    8. Cifarelli, Giulio & Paesani, Paolo, 2017. "On the difficulty of interpreting market behaviour in an uncertain world: the case of oil futures pricing between 2003 and 2016," MPRA Paper 84009, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Dowling, Michael & Cummins, Mark & Lucey, Brian M., 2016. "Psychological barriers in oil futures markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 293-304.
    10. Tokic, Damir, 2012. "Speculation and the 2008 oil bubble: The DCOT Report analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 541-550.
    11. Yue-Jun Zhang & Ting Yao & Zi-Yi Wang, 2015. "The bubble process of international crude oil futures prices: empirical evidence from the STAR model," International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 38(1/2/3), pages 109-125.
    12. Su, Chi-Wei & Li, Zheng-Zheng & Chang, Hsu-Ling & Lobonţ, Oana-Ramona, 2017. "When Will Occur the Crude Oil Bubbles?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 1-6.
    13. Sophie van Huellen, 2013. "Price Non-Convergence in Commodities: A Case Study of the Wheat Conundrum," Working Papers 185, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
    14. Cummins, Mark & Dowling, Michael & Lucey, Brian M., 2015. "Behavioral influences in non-ferrous metals prices," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 9-22.
    15. Zhang, Yue-Jun & Wang, Jing, 2015. "Exploring the WTI crude oil price bubble process using the Markov regime switching model," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 421(C), pages 377-387.
    16. Goldemberg, José & Schaeffer, Roberto & Szklo, Alexandre & Lucchesi, Rodrigo, 2014. "Oil and natural gas prospects in South America: Can the petroleum industry pave the way for renewables in Brazil?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 58-70.
    17. Kolodziej, Marek & Kaufmann, Robert K. & Kulatilaka, Nalin & Bicchetti, David & Maystre, Nicolas, 2014. "Crude oil: Commodity or financial asset?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 216-223.
    18. Cifarelli, Giulio, 2013. "Smooth transition regime shifts and oil price dynamics," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 160-167.
    19. Mark Cummins & Brian M. Lucey & Michael M. Dowling, 2014. "Behavioral Influences in Non-Ferrous Metals Prices," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp459, IIIS.
    20. Chen, Xin & Mu, Hailin & Li, Huanan & Gui, Shusen, 2014. "Using stockpile delegation to improve China׳s strategic oil policy: A multi-dimension stochastic dynamic programming approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 28-42.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:4:p:2051-2061. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.