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Does the volatility of commodity prices reflect macroeconomic uncertainty ?

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  • M. Joëts
  • V. Mignon
  • T. Razafindrabe

Abstract

While there exists numerous studies on the macroeconomic effects of oil and commodity shocks, the literature is quite silent on the impact of macroeconomic uncertainty on oil and commodity prices and, especially, on their volatility. This paper tackles this issue through the estimation of a threshold vector autoregressive (TVAR) model on a sample of 19 commodity markets. We aim at (i) assessing whether the effect of macroeconomic uncertainty shocks on commodity price returns depends on the degree of uncertainty, and (ii) investigating the transfer from macroeconomic uncertainty to price uncertainty using a newly developed measure of commodity price uncertainty. Our findings show that both agricultural and industrial markets are highly sensitive to the variability and the level of macroeconomic uncertainty, while the impact on precious metals is more parsimonious given their well-identified safe-haven role in time of economic turmoil. In addition, we find evidence that the recent 2007-09 recession has generated an unprecedented episode of high uncertainty in numerous commodity prices. Interestingly, our analysis further reveals that volatility and uncertainty in prices can be disconnected. This is especially true for the oil market as most important shocks in the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s that lead to price volatility do not generate price uncertainty, highlighting the relevance of our uncertainty measure in linking uncertainty to predictability rather than to volatility.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Joëts & V. Mignon & T. Razafindrabe, 2016. "Does the volatility of commodity prices reflect macroeconomic uncertainty ?," Working papers 607, Banque de France.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:607
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    macroeconomic uncertainty; commodity prices; threshold vector autoregressive model;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q02 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Commodity Market
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • 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

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