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The Predictive Content of Commodity Futures

  • Menzie D. Chinn


    (Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin)

  • Olivier Coibion


    (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

This paper examines the relationship between spot and futures prices for a broad range of commodities, including energy, precious and base metals, and agricultural commodities. In particular, we examine whether futures prices are (1) an unbiased and/or (2) accurate predictor of subsequent spot prices. While energy futures prices are generally unbiased predictors of future spot prices, there is much stronger evidence against the null for other commodity markets. This difference appears to be driven in part by the depth of each market. We find that over the last five years, it is much harder to reject the null of futures prices being unbiased predictors of future spot prices than in earlier periods for almost all commodities. In addition, futures prices do approximately as well as a random walk in forecasting future spot prices, and vastly outperform a reduced form empirical model.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, College of William and Mary in its series Working Papers with number 89.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 15 Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:89
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  1. James D. Hamilton, 2009. "Causes and Consequences of the Oil Shock of 2007-08," NBER Working Papers 15002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. 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.
  4. Robert B. Barsky & Lutz Kilian, 2001. "Do We Really Know that Oil Caused the Great Stagflation? A Monetary Alternative," NBER Working Papers 8389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bernanke, Ben S. & Gertler, Mark & Waston, Mark, 1997. "Systematic Monetary Policy and the Effects of Oil Price Shocks," Working Papers 97-25, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  6. Brenner, Robin J. & Kroner, Kenneth F., 1995. "Arbitrage, Cointegration, and Testing the Unbiasedness Hypothesis in Financial Markets," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 23-42, March.
  7. W. David Walls, 1995. "An Econometric Analysis of the Market for Natural Gas Futures," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 71-84.
  8. Yu-Chin Chen & Kenneth S. Rogoff & Barbara Rossi, 2010. "Can Exchange Rates Forecast Commodity Prices?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1145-1194, August.
  9. Meese, Richard A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1983. "Empirical exchange rate models of the seventies : Do they fit out of sample?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 3-24, February.
  10. Menzie D. Chinn & Michael LeBlanc & Olivier Coibion, 2005. "The Predictive Content of Energy Futures: An Update on Petroleum, Natural Gas, Heating Oil and Gasoline," NBER Working Papers 11033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Yin-Wong Cheung & Antonio Garcia Pascual & Menzie David Chinn, 2004. "Empirical Exchange Rate Models of the Nineties: Are Any Fit to Survive?," IMF Working Papers 04/73, International Monetary Fund.
  12. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1987. "Commodity Futures Prices: Some Evidence on Forecast Power, Premiums,and the Theory of Storage," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 55-73, January.
  13. William J. Crowder & Anas Hamed, 1993. "A cointegration test for oil futures market efficiency," Journal of Futures Markets, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(8), pages 933-941, December.
  14. Alan S. Blinder & Jeremy B. Rudd, 2012. "The Supply-Shock Explanation of the Great Stagflation Revisited," NBER Chapters, in: The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking, pages 119-175 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521023399 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Tao Wu & Andrew McCallum, 2005. "Do oil futures prices help predict future oil prices?," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue dec30.
  17. Robert S. Pindyck, 2001. "The Dynamics of Commodity Spot and Futures Markets: A Primer," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-30.
  18. Serletis, Apostolos, 1991. "Rational expectations, risk and efficiency in energy futures markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 111-115, April.
  19. Bopp, Anthony E. & Lady, George M., 1991. "A comparison of petroleum futures versus spot prices as predictors of prices in the future," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 274-282, October.
  20. Moosa, Imad A. & Al-Loughani, Nabeel E., 1994. "Unbiasedness and time varying risk premia in the crude oil futures market," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 99-105, April.
  21. Hamilton, James D, 1983. "Oil and the Macroeconomy since World War II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 228-48, April.
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