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Oil and the macroeconomy in a changing world: a conference summary

  • Christopher L. Foote
  • Jane S. Little

Analysis of oil-price movements is once again an important feature of economic policy discussions. To provide some background for this analysis, this paper summarizes a conference on the oil market held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in June 2010. Four cross-cutting themes emerged from this symposium, which included scientific experts, market participants, business leaders, academics, and policymakers. First, the decline in real oil prices that followed the 1970s' oil shocks is unlikely to be repeated today, because there are fewer ways in which oil-importing countries can reduce oil demand or expand domestic supplies in response to higher prices. The second lesson of the conference, however, is that any prediction about oil markets is highly uncertain, a fact illustrated by the wide confidence intervals that result when futures-market data are used to quantify forecast uncertainty. Third, there is little consensus on whether new financial investment in commodity index funds has increased the volatility of oil prices. Finally, changes in oil prices still have large effects on the economy. Some research suggests that the rapid run-up in oil prices in 2007–08 may have significantly weakened the U.S. economy in the early stages of the Great Recession.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Public Policy Discussion Paper with number 11-3.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbpp:11-3
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  1. Hamilton, James D., 2003. "What is an oil shock?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 363-398, April.
  2. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz & Vigfusson, Robert J., 2011. "Forecasting the Price of Oil," CEPR Discussion Papers 8388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Hamilton, James D., 2011. "Nonlinearities And The Macroeconomic Effects Of Oil Prices," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(S3), pages 364-378, November.
  4. Eyal Dvir & Ken Rogoff, 2009. "The Three Epochs of Oil," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 706, Boston College Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Lutz Kilian & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2011. "Are the responses of the U.S. economy asymmetric in energy price increases and decreases?," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(3), pages 419-453, November.
  7. James D. Hamilton, 2009. "Causes and Consequences of the Oil Shock of 2007-08," NBER Working Papers 15002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Gary Gorton & K. Geert Rouwenhorst, 2004. "Facts and Fantasies about Commodity Futures," NBER Working Papers 10595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Edelstein, Paul & Kilian, Lutz, 2009. "How sensitive are consumer expenditures to retail energy prices?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 766-779, September.
  12. Baumeister, Christiane & Kilian, Lutz, 2011. "Real-Time Forecasts of the Real Price of Oil," CEPR Discussion Papers 8414, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Eyal Dvir & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Three Epochs of Oil," NBER Working Papers 14927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Edelstein, Paul & Kilian, Lutz, 2007. "Retail Energy Prices and Consumer Expenditures," CEPR Discussion Papers 6255, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Ke Tang & Wei Xiong, 2010. "Index Investment and Financialization of Commodities," NBER Working Papers 16385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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