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Effects of Index-Fund Investing on Commodity Futures Prices

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  • James D. Hamilton
  • Jing Cynthia Wu

Abstract

The last decade brought substantial increased participation in commodity markets by index funds that maintain long positions in the near futures contracts. Policy makers and academic studies have reached sharply different conclusions about the effects of these funds on commodity futures prices. This paper proposes a unifying framework for examining this question, noting that according to a simple model of futures arbitrage, if index-fund buying influences prices by changing the risk premium, then the notional positions of the index investors should help predict excess returns in these contracts. We find no evidence that the positions of traders in agricultural contracts identified by the CFTC as following an index strategy can help predict returns on the near futures contracts. We review evidence that these positions might help predict changes in oil futures prices, and find that while there is some support for this in the earlier data, this appears to be driven by some of the dramatic features of the 2007-2009 recession, with the relation breaking down out of sample.

Suggested Citation

  • James D. Hamilton & Jing Cynthia Wu, 2014. "Effects of Index-Fund Investing on Commodity Futures Prices," NBER Working Papers 19892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19892
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:finlet:v:24:y:2018:i:c:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Etienne, Xiaoli L., 2015. "Financialization of Agricultural Commodity Markets: Do Financial Data Help to Forecast Agricultural Prices?," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205124, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    3. Sung Je Byun, 2017. "Speculation in Commodity Futures Markets, Inventories and the Price of Crude Oil," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 5).
    4. Alessandro Cologni & Elisa Scarpa & Francesco Giuseppe Sitzia, 2015. "Big Fish: Oil Markets and Speculation," Working Papers 2015.52, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    5. repec:bla:jageco:v:68:y:2017:i:3:p:822-838 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:jrpoli:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:208-218 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:finana:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:104-118 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sun, Hang & Bos, Jaap W.B. & Li, Zhuo, 2017. "In the Nick of Time: A Heteroskedastic SVAR Model and Its Application to the Crude Oil Futures Market," Research Memorandum 019, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    9. repec:eee:moneco:v:94:y:2018:i:c:p:1-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.
    11. Matteo Bonato & Luca Taschini, 2016. "Comovement and the financialization of commodities," GRI Working Papers 215, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    12. Brunetti, Celso & Büyükşahin, Bahattin & Harris, Jeffrey H., 2016. "Speculators, Prices, and Market Volatility," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(05), pages 1545-1574, October.
    13. Karol Szafranek, 2015. "Financialisation of the commodity markets. Conclusions from the VARX DCC GARCH," EcoMod2015 8554, EcoMod.
    14. Martín-Barragán, Belén & Ramos, Sofia B. & Veiga, Helena, 2015. "Correlations between oil and stock markets: A wavelet-based approach," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 212-227.
    15. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:256-269 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. repec:bla:jageco:v:68:y:2017:i:2:p:345-365 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Jacobs, Keri & Li, Ziran & Hayes, Dermot, 2016. "Price responses in forward contracting: do we limit the upside and expose the downside?," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235539, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    18. Taylor, Nick, 2016. "Roll strategy efficiency in commodity futures markets," Journal of Commodity Markets, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 14-34.
    19. Kucher, Oleg & Kurov, Alexander, 2014. "Business cycle, storage, and energy prices," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 217-226.
    20. Sanders, Dwight R. & Irwin, Scott H., 2014. "Energy futures prices and commodity index investment: New evidence from firm-level position data," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(S1), pages 57-68.
    21. Filippo Natoli, 2018. "Analyzing the structural transformation of commodity markets: financialization revisited," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 419, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    22. repec:eee:eneeco:v:69:y:2018:i:c:p:42-58 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Haase, Marco & Seiler Zimmermann, Yvonne & Zimmermann, Heinz, 2016. "The impact of speculation on commodity futures markets – A review of the findings of 100 empirical studies," Journal of Commodity Markets, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-15.
    24. Antonakakis, Nikolaos & Chang, Tsangyao & Cunado, Juncal & Gupta, Rangan, 2018. "The relationship between commodity markets and commodity mutual funds: A wavelet-based analysis," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-9.
    25. Reboredo, Juan C. & Uddin, Gazi Salah, 2016. "Do financial stress and policy uncertainty have an impact on the energy and metals markets? A quantile regression approach," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 284-298.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • Q13 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Markets and Marketing; Cooperatives; Agribusiness
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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