Price expectations and price dynamics: the case of the rice sector in developing Asia
Uncertainty is a crucial issue for producers who must make input decisions without knowing prices and without perfect knowledge of realized output. In this context, price expectations strongly determine the production choices and market prices that result from market-clearing conditions. This study analyzed the role that price expectations play in price dynamics, developing a theoretical model of trade in varieties following Armington (1969) and augmented with yield and price uncertainty to highlight several main determinants of domestic producer prices, including exchange rates, proximity to world markets, input prices, natural disasters, and producers' expectations. An econometric estimation of the rice sector, using a panel of 13 developing Asian countries during 1965-2003, confirmed that expectations count, with a 1% increase in the expected price resulting in a 1.18% decrease in the market price. A simulation exercise based on these empirical results demonstrated that forecasting errors are large. Specifically, Asian rice farmers have a 50% chance of making prediction errors of 10% or more on the final market price. This high error rate suggests the need for developing ways of sharing information, such as radio programs dedicated to agricultural producers or the introduction of futures markets, to stabilize agricultural incomes.
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