The Simple Economics of Commodity Price Speculation
The price of crude oil in the U.S. never exceeded $40 per barrel until mid-2004. By 2006 it reached $70, and in July 2008 it peaked at $145. By late 2008 it had plummeted to about $30 before increasing to $110 in 2011. Are speculators at least partly to blame for these sharp price changes? We clarify the effects of speculators on commodity prices. We focus on crude oil, but our approach can be applied to other commodities. We explain the meaning of "oil price speculation," how it can occur, and how it relates to investments in oil reserves, inventories, or derivatives (such as futures contracts). Turning to the data, we calculate counterfactual prices that would have occurred from 1999 to 2012 in the absence of speculation. Our framework is based on a simple and transparent model of supply and demand in the cash and storage markets for a commodity. It lets us determine whether speculation is consistent with data on production, consumption, inventory changes, and convenience yields given reasonable elasticity assumptions. We show speculation had little, if any, effect on prices and volatility.
|Date of creation:||Apr 2013|
|Publication status:||published as Christopher R. Knittel & Robert S. Pindyck, 2016. "The Simple Economics of Commodity Price Speculation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 85-110, April.|
|Note:||AP EEE EFG IO|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Robert S. Pindyck, 1990.
"Inventories and the Short-Run Dynamics of Commodity Prices,"
NBER Working Papers
3295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Inventories and the Short-Run Dynamics of Commodity Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 141-159, Spring.
- Pindyck, Robert S., 1990. "Inventories and the short-run dynamics of commodity prices," Working papers 3133-90., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
- James L. Smith, 2009.
"World Oil: Market or Mayhem?,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 145-64, Summer.
- Luciana Juvenal & Ivan Petrella, 2012.
"Speculation in the oil market,"
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
- Dahl, Carol & Duggan, Thomas E., 1996. "U.S. energy product supply elasticities: A survey and application to the U.S. oil market," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 243-263, October.
- 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).
- Fattouh, Bassam & Kilian, Lutz & Mahadeva, Lavan, 2012. "The Role of Speculation in Oil Markets: What Have We Learned So Far?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8916, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Lutz Kilian, 2009.
"Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1053-69, June.
- Kilian, Lutz, 2006. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 5994, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- 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.
- Lutz Kilian & Daniel P. Murphy, 2014. "The Role Of Inventories And Speculative Trading In The Global Market For Crude Oil," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 454-478, 04.
- 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.
- Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz, 2007. "What Do We Learn from the Price of Crude Oil Futures?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6548, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- James L. Paddock & Daniel R. Siegel & James L. Smith, 1988. "Option Valuation of Claims on Real Assets: The Case of Offshore Petroleum Leases," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 479-508.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18951. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.