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Evaluating the forecasting performance of commodity futures prices

Author

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  • Trevor A. Reeve
  • Robert J. Vigfusson

Abstract

Commodity futures prices are frequently criticized as being uninformative for forecasting purposes because (1) they seem to do no better than a random walk or an extrapolation of recent trends and (2) futures prices for commodities often trace out a relatively flat trajectory even though global demand is steadily increasing. In this paper, we attempt to shed light on these concerns by discussing the theoretical relationship between spot and futures prices for commodities and by evaluating the empirical forecasting performance of futures prices relative to some alternative benchmarks. The key results of our analysis are that futures prices have generally outperformed a random walk forecast, but not by a large margin, while both futures and a random walk noticeably outperform a simple extrapolation of recent trends (a random walk with drift). Importantly, however, futures prices, on average, outperform a random walk by a considerable margin when there is a sizeable difference between spot and futures prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Trevor A. Reeve & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2011. "Evaluating the forecasting performance of commodity futures prices," International Finance Discussion Papers 1025, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1025
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz & Vigfusson, Robert J., 2013. "Forecasting the Price of Oil," Handbook of Economic Forecasting, Elsevier.
    4. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Baumeister, Christiane & Kilian, Lutz & Zhou, Xiaoqing, 2013. "Are Product Spreads Useful for Forecasting? An Empirical Evaluation of the Verleger Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 9572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Zhang, Hui Jun & Dufour, Jean-Marie & Galbraith, John W., 2016. "Exchange rates and commodity prices: Measuring causality at multiple horizons," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 100-120.
    3. Mihaela Bratu, 2012. "A Strategy to Improve the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) Predictions Using Bias-Corrected-Accelerated (BCA) Bootstrap Forecast Intervals," International Journal of Synergy and Research, ToKnowPress, vol. 1(2), pages 45-59.
    4. Naser, Hanan, 2016. "Estimating and forecasting the real prices of crude oil: A data rich model using a dynamic model averaging (DMA) approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 75-87.
    5. Fernandez, Viviana, 2017. "A historical perspective of the informational content of commodity futures," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 135-150.
    6. Nixon, Dan & Smith, Tom, 2012. "What can the oil futures curve tell us about the outlook for oil prices?," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 52(1), pages 39-47.
    7. Bratu Mihaela, 2013. "An Evaluation Of Usa Unemployment Rate Forecasts In Terms Of Accuracy And Bias. Empirical Methods To Improve The Forecasts Accuracy," Annals - Economy Series, Constantin Brancusi University, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1, pages 170-180, February.
    8. David A Reichsfeld & Shaun K. Roache, 2011. "Do Commodity Futures Help Forecast Spot Prices?," IMF Working Papers 11/254, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Trop, P. & Anicic, B. & Goricanec, D., 2014. "Production of methanol from a mixture of torrefied biomass and coal," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 125-132.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Commodity futures ; Futures market ; Prices ; Economic forecasting;

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