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Do financial investors destabilize the oil price?

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  • Lombardi, Marco J.
  • Van Robays, Ine

Abstract

In this paper, we assess whether and to what extent financial activity in the oil futures markets has contributed to destabilize oil prices in recent years. We define a destabilizing financial shock as a shift in oil prices that is not related to current and expected fundamentals, and thereby distorts efficient pricing in the oil market. Using a structural VAR model identified with sign restrictions, we disentangle this non-fundamental financial shock from fundamental shocks to oil supply and demand to determine their relative importance. We find that financial investors in the futures market can destabilize oil spot prices, although only in the short run. Moreover, financial activity appears to have exacerbated the volatility in the oil market over the past decade, particularly in 2007-2008. However, shocks to oil demand and supply remain the main drivers of oil price swings. JEL Classification: C32, Q41, Q31

Suggested Citation

  • Lombardi, Marco J. & Van Robays, Ine, 2011. "Do financial investors destabilize the oil price?," Working Paper Series 1346, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111346
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Oil Price; sign restrictions; speculation; structural VAR;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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