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Did the Renewable Fuel Standard Shift Market Expectations of the Price of Ethanol?

Listed author(s):
  • Christiane J.S. Baumeister
  • Reinhard Ellwanger
  • Lutz Kilian

It is commonly believed that the response of the price of corn ethanol (and hence of the price of corn) to shifts in biofuel policies operates in part through market expectations and shifts in storage demand, yet to date it has proved difficult to measure these expectations and to empirically evaluate this view. We quantify the extent to which price changes were anticipated by the market, the extent to which they were unanticipated, and how the risk premium in these markets has evolved. We show that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) increased ethanol price expectations by as much $1.50 initially, raising ethanol storage demand starting and causing an increase in the price of ethanol. There is no conclusive evidence that the tightening of the RFS in 2008 shifted market expectations, but our analysis suggests that policy uncertainty about how to deal with the blend wall raised the risk premium in the ethanol futures market in mid-2013 by as much as 50 cents at longer horizons. Finally, we present evidence against a tight link from ethanol price expectations to corn price expectations and hence to the storage demand for corn in 2005-06.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23752.

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Date of creation: Aug 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23752
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  1. Kilian, Lutz, 2016. "The Impact of the Fracking Boom on Arab Oil Producers," CEPR Discussion Papers 11107, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. John Coglianese & Lucas W. Davis & Lutz Kilian & James H. Stock, 2015. "Anticipation, Tax Avoidance, and the Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," NBER Working Papers 20980, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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).
  4. Anderson, Soren T. & Kellogg, Ryan & Sallee, James M., 2013. "What do consumers believe about future gasoline prices?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 383-403.
  5. Mallory, Mindy L. & Irwin, Scott H. & Hayes, Dermot J., 2012. "How market efficiency and the theory of storage link corn and ethanol markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 2157-2166.
  6. Justine S. Hastings & Richard J. Gilbert, 2005. "MARKET POWER, VERTICAL INTEGRATION AND THE WHOLESALE PRICE OF GASOLINE -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 469-492, December.
  7. David A. Bielen & Richard G. Newell & William A. Pizer, 2016. "Who Did the Ethanol Tax Credit Benefit? An Event Analysis of Subsidy Incidence," NBER Working Papers 21968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Lutz Kilian, 2010. "Explaining Fluctuations in Gasoline Prices: A Joint Model of the Global Crude Oil Market and the U.S. Retail Gasoline Market," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 87-112.
  9. Diebold, Francis X & Mariano, Roberto S, 2002. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 134-144, January.
  10. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2014. "Do oil price increases cause higher food prices?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 29(80), pages 691-747, October.
  11. Baumeister, Christiane & Kilian, Lutz & Lee, Thomas K., 2015. "Inside the crystal ball: New approaches to predicting the gasoline price at the pump," CFS Working Paper Series 500, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  12. Silvennoinen, Annastiina & Thorp, Susan, 2013. "Financialization, crisis and commodity correlation dynamics," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 42-65.
  13. Philip Abbott, 2014. "Biofuels, Binding Constraints, and Agricultural Commodity Price Volatility," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Food Price Volatility, pages 91-131 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Clark, Todd E. & West, Kenneth D., 2007. "Approximately normal tests for equal predictive accuracy in nested models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 291-311, May.
  15. repec:oup:ajagec:v:99:y:2017:i:4:p:1027-1055. is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Hamilton, James D. & Wu, Jing Cynthia, 2014. "Risk premia in crude oil futures prices," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 9-37.
  17. Teresa Serra & David Zilberman & José M. Gil & Barry K. Goodwin, 2011. "Nonlinearities in the U.S. corn‐ethanol‐oil‐gasoline price system," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 42(1), pages 35-45, 01.
  18. Michael J. Roberts & Wolfram Schlenker, 2013. "Identifying Supply and Demand Elasticities of Agricultural Commodities: Implications for the US Ethanol Mandate," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2265-2295, October.
  19. Brian Wright, 2014. "Global Biofuels: Key to the Puzzle of Grain Market Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 73-98, Winter.
  20. Severin Borenstein and Ryan Kellogg, 2014. "The Incidence of an Oil Glut: Who Benefits from Cheap Crude Oil in the Midwest?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
  21. Alberto Salvo & Cristian Huse, 2011. "Is Arbitrage Tying the Price of Ethanol to that of Gasoline? Evidence from the Uptake of Flexible-Fuel Technology," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 119-148.
  22. 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.
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