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Butter mountains, milk lakes and optimal price limiters

Author

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  • Ned Corron
  • Xue-Zhong He
  • Frank Westerhoff

Abstract

It is known that simple price limiters may have unexpected consequences in irregular commodity price fluctuations between bull and bear markets and complicated impacts on the size of buffer stocks. In particular, imposing a lower price boundary may lead to a huge buffer stock, e.g. to a 'butter mountain' or a 'milk lake' and this is a real problem for regulators since storage costs may become impossible to finance over time. The relation between price limiters and the size of buffer stocks is nontrivial and there may exist some optimal price limiters which require only weak market interventions and thus provide a rather inexpensive option to regulate commodity markets. In this article, we use a simple commodity market model to explore the relation between price limiters and the average growth rate of the buffer stocks. It is found that these optimal price limiter levels are simply the minimum values of unstable periodic orbits of the underlying deterministic system.

Suggested Citation

  • Ned Corron & Xue-Zhong He & Frank Westerhoff, 2007. "Butter mountains, milk lakes and optimal price limiters," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(15), pages 1131-1136.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:apeclt:v:14:y:2007:i:15:p:1131-1136
    DOI: 10.1080/13504850600606059
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Day, Richard H. & Huang, Weihong, 1990. "Bulls, bears and market sheep," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 299-329, December.
    2. He, Xue-Zhong & Westerhoff, Frank H., 2005. "Commodity markets, price limiters and speculative price dynamics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(9), pages 1577-1596, September.
    3. William A. Brock & Cars H. Hommes, 1997. "A Rational Route to Randomness," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1059-1096, September.
    4. Farmer, J. Doyne & Joshi, Shareen, 2002. "The price dynamics of common trading strategies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 149-171, October.
    5. Newbery, David M, 1989. "The Theory of Food Price Stabilisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1065-1082, December.
    6. Lux, T. & M. Marchesi, "undated". "Volatility Clustering in Financial Markets: A Micro-Simulation of Interacting Agents," Discussion Paper Serie B 437, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Jul 1998.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices

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