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Do financial investors destabilize the oil price?

  • Lombardi, Marco J.
  • Van Robays, Ine

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

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1346.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111346
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  1. G. Peersman & I. Van Robays, 2009. "Oil and the Euro Area Economy," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 09/582, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  2. Gert Peersman, 2005. "What caused the early millennium slowdown? Evidence based on vector autoregressions," Bank of England working papers 272, Bank of England.
  3. Kilian, Lutz & Murphy, Daniel P, 2009. "Why Agnostic Sign Restrictions Are Not Enough: Understanding the Dynamics of Oil Market VAR Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 7471, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Robert S. Pindyck, 1992. "The Present Value Model of Rational Commodity Pricing," NBER Working Papers 4083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alessio Anzuini & Marco J. Lombardi & Patrizio Pagano, 2012. "The impact of monetary policy shocks on commodity prices," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 851, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  6. Andrei Shleifer ad Robert W. Vishny, 1995. "The Limits of Arbitrage," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1725, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Acharya, Viral V. & Lochstoer, Lars A. & Ramadorai, Tarun, 2013. "Limits to arbitrage and hedging: Evidence from commodity markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 441-465.
  8. 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.
  9. Kaufmann, Robert K. & Ullman, Ben, 2009. "Oil prices, speculation, and fundamentals: Interpreting causal relations among spot and futures prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 550-558, July.
  10. Miller, J. Isaac & Ratti, Ronald A., 2009. "Crude oil and stock markets: Stability, instability, and bubbles," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 559-568, July.
  11. Gert Peersman & Ine Van Robays, 2010. "Cross-Country Differences in the Effects of Oil Shocks," CESifo Working Paper Series 3306, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Kilian, Lutz, 2006. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 5994, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Renee Fry & Adrian Pagan, 2010. "Sign Restrictions in Structural Vector Autoregressions: A Critical Review," NCER Working Paper Series 57, National Centre for Econometric Research.
  14. 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.
  15. C. Baumeister & G. Peersman, 2008. "Time-Varying Effects of Oil Supply Shocks on the US Economy," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 08/515, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  16. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz, 2007. "What Do We Learn from the Price of Crude Oil Futures?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6548, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. C. Baumeister & G. Peersman & -, 2010. "Sources of the Volatility Puzzle in the Crude Oil Market," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 10/634, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  18. Scott H. Irwin & Dwight R. Sanders, 2010. "The Impact of Index and Swap Funds on Commodity Futures Markets: Preliminary Results," OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers 27, OECD Publishing.
  19. Pindyck, Robert S., 1990. "Inventories and the short-run dynamics of commodity prices," Working papers 3133-90., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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