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Liquidity-Induced Dynamics in Futures Markets


  • Stephen Fagan
  • Ramazan Gencay


Futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange are the most liquid instruments for trading crude oil, which is the world’s most actively traded physical commodity. Under normal market conditions, traders can easily find counterparties for their trades, resulting in an efficient market with virtually no return predictability. Yet even this extremely liquid instrument suffers from liquidity shocks that induce periods of increased volatility and significant return predictability. This paper identifies an important and recurring cause of these shocks: the accumulation of extreme and opposing positions by the two main trader classes in the market, namely hedgers and speculators. As positions become extreme, approaching their historical limits, counterparties for trades become scarce and prices must adjust to induce trade. These liquidity-induced price adjustments are found to be driven by systematic speculative behaviour and are determined to be significant.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Fagan & Ramazan Gencay, 2008. "Liquidity-Induced Dynamics in Futures Markets," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2008_01, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  • Handle: RePEc:eei:rpaper:eeri_rp_2008_01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary B. Gorton & Fumio Hayashi & K. Geert Rouwenhorst, 2013. "The Fundamentals of Commodity Futures Returns," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 17(1), pages 35-105.
    2. Changyun Wang, 2003. "Investor sentiment, market timing, and futures returns," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(12), pages 891-898.
    3. LeBaron, Blake, 1992. "Some Relations between Volatility and Serial Correlations in Stock Market Returns," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(2), pages 199-219, April.
    4. Joelle Miffre, 2002. "The predictability of futures returns: rational variation in required returns or market inefficiency?," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(10), pages 715-724.
    5. Sanders, Dwight R. & Boris, Keith & Manfredo, Mark, 2004. "Hedgers, funds, and small speculators in the energy futures markets: an analysis of the CFTC's Commitments of Traders reports," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 425-445, May.
    6. Tarun Chordia, 2001. "Market Liquidity and Trading Activity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(2), pages 501-530, April.
    7. Tarun Chordia & Asani Sarkar & Avanidhar Subrahmanyam, 2003. "An empirical analysis of stock and bond market liquidity," Staff Reports 164, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    8. Hasabrouck, Joel & Sofianos, George, 1993. " The Trades of Market Makers: An Empirical Analysis of NYSE Specialists," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(5), pages 1565-1593, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cifarelli, Giulio & Paladino, Giovanna, 2011. "Hedging vs. speculative pressures on commodity futures returns," MPRA Paper 28229, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Cifarelli, Giulio & Paladino, Giovanna, 2015. "A dynamic model of hedging and speculation in the commodity futures markets," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 1-15.

    More about this item


    Liquidity; Futures Markets; Return Predictability; Volatility; Trader Positions; Directional Realized Volatility; Hedgers; Speculators; Position Bounds;

    JEL classification:

    • G0 - Financial Economics - - General
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General

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