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Interest rates and the volatility and correlation of commodity prices

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  • Joseph W. Gruber
  • Robert J. Vigfusson

Abstract

We purpose a novel explanation for the observed increase in the correlation of commodity prices over the past decade. In contrast to theories that rely on the increased influence of financial speculators, we show that price correlation can increase as a result of a decline in the interest rate. More generally, we examine the effect of interest rates on the volatility and correlation of commodity prices, theoretically through the framework of Deaton and Laroque (1992) and empirically via a panel GARCH model. In theory, we show that lower interest rates decrease the volatility of prices, as lower inventory costs promote the smoothing of transient shocks, and can increase price correlation if common shocks are more persistent than idiosyncratic shocks. Empirically, as predicted by theory, we find that price volatility attributable to transitory shocks declines with interest rates, while, for many commodity pairs, price correlation increases as interest rates decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph W. Gruber & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2012. "Interest rates and the volatility and correlation of commodity prices," International Finance Discussion Papers 1065, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1065
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ke Tang & Wei Xiong, 2010. "Index Investment and Financialization of Commodities," NBER Working Papers 16385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Charles Engel & Kenneth D. West, 2005. "Exchange Rates and Fundamentals," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 485-517, June.
    3. Bryan R. Routledge & Duane J. Seppi & Chester S. Spatt, 2000. "Equilibrium Forward Curves for Commodities," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1297-1338, June.
    4. Bassam Fattouh, Lutz Kilian, and Lavan Mahadeva, 2013. "The Role of Speculation in Oil Markets: What Have We Learned So Far?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    5. Deaton, Angus & Laroque, Guy, 1996. "Competitive Storage and Commodity Price Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 896-923, October.
    6. Joseph Haubrich & George Pennacchi & Peter Ritchken, 2012. "Inflation Expectations, Real Rates, and Risk Premia: Evidence from Inflation Swaps," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(5), pages 1588-1629.
    7. Eduardo Schwartz & James E. Smith, 2000. "Short-Term Variations and Long-Term Dynamics in Commodity Prices," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(7), pages 893-911, July.
    8. David M Arseneau & Sylvain Leduc, 2013. "Commodity Price Movements in a General Equilibrium Model of Storage," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 61(1), pages 199-224, April.
    9. Vansteenkiste, Isabel, 2009. "How important are common factors in driving non-fuel commodity prices? A dynamic factor analysis," Working Paper Series 1072, European Central Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Deepa Datta & Benjamin K Johannsen & Hannah Kwon & Robert J Vigfusson, 2017. "Oil, equities, and the zero lower bound," BIS Working Papers 617, Bank for International Settlements.
    2. Ing-Haw Cheng & Wei Xiong, 2014. "Financialization of Commodity Markets," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 419-441, December.
    3. Xu, Zheng, 2013. "Estimation of parametric homogeneous stochastic volatility pricing formulae based on option data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 369-373.
    4. Nicola, Francesca de & De Pace, Pierangelo & Hernandez, Manuel A., 2016. "Co-movement of major energy, agricultural, and food commodity price returns: A time-series assessment," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 28-41.
    5. Bessler, Wolfgang & Wolff, Dominik, 2015. "Do commodities add value in multi-asset portfolios? An out-of-sample analysis for different investment strategies," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 1-20.

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