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The Relative Volatility of Commodity Prices; A Reappraisal

  • Rabah Arezki
  • Daniel Lederman
  • Hongyan Zhao

This paper studies the volatility of commodity prices on the basis of a large dataset of monthly prices observed in international trade data from the United States over the period 2002 to 2011. The conventional wisdom in academia and policy circles is that primary commodity prices are more volatile than those of manufactured products, even though most of the existing evidence does not actually attempt to measure the volatility of prices of individual goods or commodities. Rather the literature tends to focus on trends in the evolution and volatility of ratios of price indexes composed of multiple commodities and products. This approach can be misleading. Indeed, the evidence presented in this paper suggests that on average prices of individual primary commodities may be less volatile than those of individual manufactured goods.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 11/279.

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Length: 23
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:11/279
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  1. Daniel Lederman & William F. Maloney, 2007. "Natural Resources : Neither Curse nor Destiny," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7183.
    • Anthony J. Venables & William Maloney & Ari Kokko & Claudio Bravo Ortega & Daniel Lederman & Roberto Rigobón & José De Gregorio & Jesse Czelusta & Shamila A. Jayasuriya & Magnus Blomström & L. Colin X, 2007. "Natural Resources: Neither Curse nor Destiny," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 59538 edited by William Maloney & Daniel Lederman, September.
  2. Gourinchas, Pierre-Oliver & Farhi, Emmanuel & Caballero, Ricardo J., 2008. "Financial Crash, Commodity Prices, and Global Imbalances," Scholarly Articles 3229095, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Rabah Arezki & Markus Brückner, 2011. "Food prices and political instability," NCID Working Papers 01/2011, Navarra Center for International Development, University of Navarra.
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  5. Delgado, Miguel A. & Farinas, Jose C. & Ruano, Sonia, 2002. "Firm productivity and export markets: a non-parametric approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 397-422, August.
  6. Markus Brückner & Antonio Ciccone, 2009. "International Commodity Prices, Growth, and the Outbreak of Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 2009-37, FEDEA.
  7. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis & Peter K. Schott, 2002. "U.S. Imports, Exports, and Tariff Data, 1989-2001," NBER Working Papers 9387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Paul Cashin & C. John McDermott, 2001. "The Long-Run Behavior of Commodity Prices; Small Trends and Big Variability," IMF Working Papers 01/68, International Monetary Fund.
  10. repec:idb:brikps:59538 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Garry F. Barrett & Stephen G. Donald, 2003. "Consistent Tests for Stochastic Dominance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 71-104, January.
  12. Frederick van der Ploeg, 2011. "Natural Resources: Curse or Blessing?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 366-420, June.
  13. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Networks versus Markets in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 5617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. David I. Harvey & Neil M. Kellard & Jakob B. Madsen & Mark E. Wohar, 2010. "The Prebisch-Singer Hypothesis: Four Centuries of Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 367-377, May.
  15. Calvo-Gonzalez, Oscar & Shankar, Rashmi & Trezzi, Riccardo, 2010. "Are commodity prices more volatile now ? a long-run perspective," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5460, The World Bank.
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