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Risk Premia in Crude Oil Futures Prices

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  • James D. Hamilton
  • Jing Cynthia Wu

Abstract

If commercial producers or financial investors use futures contracts to hedge against commodity price risk, the arbitrageurs who take the other side of the contracts may receive compensation for their assumption of nondiversifiable risk in the form of positive expected returns from their positions. We show that this interaction can produce an affine factor structure to commodity futures prices, and develop new algorithms for estimation of such models using unbalanced data sets in which the duration of observed contracts changes with each observation. We document significant changes in oil futures risk premia since 2005, with the compensation to the long position smaller on average in more recent data. This observation is consistent with the claim that index-fund investing has become more important relative to commerical hedging in determining the structure of crude oil futures risk premia over time.

Suggested Citation

  • James D. Hamilton & Jing Cynthia Wu, 2013. "Risk Premia in Crude Oil Futures Prices," NBER Working Papers 19056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19056
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • Q14 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Finance

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