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Do Birds of a Feather Flock Together? Speculator Herding in the World Oil Market

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  • Robert Weiner

    () (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

This paper looks at speculative behavior in the international oil market. Much of the blame for oil-market turbulence has been placed on speculators, particularly hedge funds. Speculative capital has been characterized as “hot money,” with capital flows driven by “herding,” “flocking,” and “contagion.” Policies to deal with volatility by weakening, or even disabling speculation, have been based largely on anecdote, convenience (speculators have long served as scapegoats for various problems), and ideology, rather than careful analysis. Part of the problem arises from the secrecy with which speculators operate. Because speculative trading cannot easily be observed, it is difficult to assess speculators’ contribution, if any, to volatility. The paper utilizes a large, detailed database on individual trader positions in crude-oil and heating-oil futures markets. The paper is exploratory, with focus on measuring and assessing the tendency of speculators to herd (trade in the same direction as a group) and flock (trade in the same direction by subgroups of speculators).

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Weiner, 2006. "Do Birds of a Feather Flock Together? Speculator Herding in the World Oil Market," Discussion Papers dp-06-31, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-06-31
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    File URL: http://www.rff.org/RFF/documents/RFF-DP-06-31.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eichengreen, Barry & Tobin, James & Wyplosz, Charles, 1995. "Two Cases for Sand in the Wheels of International Finance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 162-172, January.
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    5. Dale, Charles & Zyren, John, 1996. "Noncommercial Trading in the Energy Futures Market," MPRA Paper 47463, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:33077905 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1990. "The Noise Trader Approach to Finance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 19-33, Spring.
    8. Russ Wermers, 1999. "Mutual Fund Herding and the Impact on Stock Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 581-622, April.
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    10. Hartzmark, Michael L, 1987. "Returns to Individual Traders of Futures: Aggregate Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1292-1306, December.
    11. Robert J Weiner, 2005. "Speculation in international crises: report from the Gulf," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 36(5), pages 576-587, September.
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    13. Louis Ederington & Jae Ha Lee, 2002. "Who Trades Futures and How: Evidence from the Heating Oil Futures Market," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75(2), pages 353-374, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Demirer, Rıza & Lee, Hsiang-Tai & Lien, Donald, 2015. "Does the stock market drive herd behavior in commodity futures markets?," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 32-44.
    2. Hache, Emmanuel & Lantz, Frédéric, 2013. "Speculative trading and oil price dynamic: A study of the WTI market," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 334-340.
    3. Demirer, Riza & Kutan, Ali M. & Chen, Chun-Da, 2010. "Do investors herd in emerging stock markets?: Evidence from the Taiwanese market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 283-295, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    oil; speculation; volatility; herding; derivatives; futures;

    JEL classification:

    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • L71 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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