IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Role of Speculation in Oil Markets: What Have We Learned So Far?

  • Fattouh, Bassam
  • Kilian, Lutz
  • Mahadeva, Lavan

A popular view is that the surge in the price of oil during 2003-08 cannot be explained by economic fundamentals, but was caused by the increased financialization of oil futures markets, which in turn allowed speculation to become a major determinant of the spot price of oil. This interpretation has been driving policy efforts to regulate oil futures markets. This survey reviews the evidence supporting this view. We identify six strands in the literature corresponding to different empirical methodologies and discuss to what extent each approach sheds light on the role of speculation. We find that the existing evidence is not supportive of an important role of speculation in driving the spot price of oil after 2003. Instead, there is strong evidence that the co-movement between spot and futures prices reflects common economic fundamentals rather than the financialization of oil futures markets.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8916.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8916
Contact details of provider: Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Juvenal, Luciana & Petrella, Ivan, 2014. "Speculation in the Oil Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 9808, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Lucas W. Davis & Lutz Kilian, 2011. "Estimating the effect of a gasoline tax on carbon emissions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(7), pages 1187-1214, November.
  3. Kilian, Lutz & Murphy, Daniel P, 2010. "The Role of Inventories and Speculative Trading in the Global Market for Crude Oil," CEPR Discussion Papers 7753, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. 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.
  5. Irwin, Scott H. & Sanders, Dwight R., 2012. "Testing the Masters Hypothesis in commodity futures markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 256-269.
  6. Frans A. de Roon & Theo E. Nijman & Chris Veld, 2000. "Hedging Pressure Effects in Futures Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1437-1456, 06.
  7. Renee Fry & Adrian Pagan, 2010. "Sign Restrictions in Structural Vector Autoregressions: A Critical Review," CAMA Working Papers 2010-22, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  8. 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 1053-69, June.
  9. Erkko Etula, 2013. "Broker-Dealer Risk Appetite and Commodity Returns," Journal of Financial Econometrics, Society for Financial Econometrics, vol. 11(3), pages 486-521, June.
  10. Eyal Dvir & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Three Epochs of Oil," NBER Working Papers 14927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz & Vigfusson, Robert J., 2011. "Forecasting the Price of Oil," CEPR Discussion Papers 8388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Chang, Eric C, 1985. " Returns to Speculators and the Theory of Normal Backwardation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(1), pages 193-208, March.
  13. Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 2006. "Does information help recovering structural shocks from past observations?," Working Paper Series 0632, European Central Bank.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Jacks, David S., 2007. "Populists versus theorists: Futures markets and the volatility of prices," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 342-362, April.
  17. Baumeister, Christiane & Kilian, Lutz, 2011. "Real-Time Forecasts of the Real Price of Oil," CEPR Discussion Papers 8414, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Hirshleifer, David, 1989. "Determinants of Hedging and Risk Premia in Commodity Futures Markets," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 313-331, September.
  19. Ron Alquist & Olivier Gervais, 2011. "The Role of Financial Speculation in Driving the Price of Crude Oil," Discussion Papers 11-6, Bank of Canada.
  20. Lombardi, Marco J. & Van Robays, Ine, 2011. "Do financial investors destabilize the oil price?," Working Paper Series 1346, European Central Bank.
  21. Apostolos Serletis & Govinda R. Timilsina & Olexandr Vasetsky, 2010. "International Evidence on Sectoral Interfuel Substitution," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 1-30.
  22. Luca Guerrieri & Martin Bodenstein, 2012. "Oil Efficiency, Demand, and Prices: a Tale of Ups and Downs," 2012 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  23. Akram, Q. Farooq, 2009. "Commodity prices, interest rates and the dollar," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 838-851, November.
  24. Annastiina Silvennoinen & Susan Thorp, 2010. "Financialization, Crisis and Commodity Correlation Dynamics," Research Paper Series 267, Quantitative Finance Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney.
  25. Working, Holbrook, 1960. "Speculation on Hedging Markets," Food Research Institute Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, issue 02, May.
  26. David Hirshleifer, 1988. "Residual Risk, Trading Costs, and Commodity Futures Risk Premia," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 1(2), pages 173-193.
  27. Irwin, Scott H. & Sanders, Dwight R. & Merrin, Robert P., 2009. "Devil or Angel? The Role of Speculation in the Recent Commodity Price Boom (and Bust)," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 41(02), August.
  28. Bassam Fattouh & Pasquale Scaramozzino, 2011. "Uncertainty, expectations, and fundamentals: whatever happened to long-term oil prices?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(1), pages 186-206, Spring.
  29. Ke Tang & Wei Xiong, 2010. "Index Investment and Financialization of Commodities," NBER Working Papers 16385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8916. 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: ()

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.