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Quantifying the speculative component in the real price of oil: The role of global oil inventories

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  • Kilian, Lutz
  • Lee, Thomas K.

Abstract

One of the central questions of policy interest in recent years has been how many dollars of the inflation-adjusted price of oil must be attributed to speculative demand for oil stocks at each point in time. We develop statistical tools that allow us to address this question, and we use these tools to explore how the use of two alternative proxies for global crude oil inventories affects the empirical evidence for speculation. Notwithstanding some differences, overall these inventory proxies yield similar results. While there is evidence of speculative demand raising the price in mid-2008 by between 5 and 14 dollars, depending on the inventory specification, there is no evidence of speculative demand pressures between early 2003 and early 2008. As a result, current policy efforts aimed at tightening the regulation of oil derivatives markets cannot be expected to lower the real price of oil in the physical market. We also provide evidence that the Libyan crisis in 2011 shifted expectations in oil markets, resulting in a price increase of between 3 and 13 dollars, depending on the inventory specification. With regard to tensions with Iran in 2012, the implied price premium ranges from 0 to 9 dollars.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jimfin:v:42:y:2014:i:c:p:71-87
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jimonfin.2013.08.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ron Alquist & Lutz Kilian, 2010. "What do we learn from the price of crude oil futures?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(4), pages 539-573.
    2. James D. Hamilton, 2009. "Causes and Consequences of the Oil Shock of 2007-08," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(1 (Spring), pages 215-283.
    3. Eyal Dvir & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Three Epochs of Oil," NBER Working Papers 14927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Domenico Giannone & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2006. "Does information help recovering structural shocks from past observations?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 455-465, 04-05.
    5. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz & Vigfusson, Robert J., 2013. "Forecasting the Price of Oil," Handbook of Economic Forecasting, Elsevier.
    6. Bassam Fattouh, Lutz Kilian, and Lavan Mahadeva, 2013. "The Role of Speculation in Oil Markets: What Have We Learned So Far?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    7. 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.
    8. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2014. "Real-Time Analysis of Oil Price Risks Using Forecast Scenarios," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 62(1), pages 119-145, April.
    9. David M Arseneau & Sylvain Leduc, 2013. "Commodity Price Movements in a General Equilibrium Model of Storage," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 61(1), pages 199-224, April.
    10. Lutz Kilian, 2008. "Exogenous Oil Supply Shocks: How Big Are They and How Much Do They Matter for the U.S. Economy?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 216-240, May.
    11. Deren Unalmis & Ibrahim Unalmis & Derya Filiz Unsal, 2012. "On Oil Price Shocks: The Role of Storage," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 60(4), pages 505-532, December.
    12. Lutz Kilian & Daniel P. Murphy, 2012. "Why Agnostic Sign Restrictions Are Not Enough: Understanding The Dynamics Of Oil Market Var Models," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(5), pages 1166-1188, October.
    13. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2011. "Real-Time Forecasts of the Real Price of Oil," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(2), pages 326-336, September.
    14. Lutz Kilian, 2009. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1053-1069, June.
    15. Hamilton, James D. & Wu, Jing Cynthia, 2014. "Risk premia in crude oil futures prices," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 9-37.
    16. Irwin, Scott H. & Sanders, Dwight R., 2012. "Testing the Masters Hypothesis in commodity futures markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 256-269.
    17. Bénédicte Vidaillet & V. D'Estaintot & P. Abécassis, 2005. "Introduction," Post-Print hal-00287137, HAL.
    18. Bahattin Buyuksahin & Jeffrey H. Harris, 2011. "Do Speculators Drive Crude Oil Futures Prices?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 167-202.
    19. repec:taf:jnlbes:v:30:y:2012:i:2:p:326-336 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Lutz Kilian & Bruce Hicks, 2013. "Did Unexpectedly Strong Economic Growth Cause the Oil Price Shock of 2003–2008?," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(5), pages 385-394, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Oil price; Speculation; Inventories; Expectations; Global commodity markets;

    JEL classification:

    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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