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Are commodity prices more volatile now ? a long-run perspective


  • Calvo-Gonzalez, Oscar
  • Shankar, Rashmi
  • Trezzi, Riccardo


Soaring commodity prices in 2007 and 2008 raised concerns that volatility was also rising, which would have implications for welfare and therefore for the design of public policy interventions. The literature focuses on trends in commodity prices rather than their volatility characteristics. This paper contributes by examining commodity price volatility with a newly compiled monthly panel dataset on 45 individual commodity prices from the end of the 18th century until today. The main conclusions are: the timing and number of breaks in volatility vary considerably across individual commodities, cautioning against generalizations based on the use of commodity price indices; the three most significant breaks common to most commodities are the two world wars and the collapse of the Bretton-Woods system; and structural breaks marking increased price volatility are followed by breaks marking declines in volatility so that there is no upward or downward trend in volatility over time.

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  • Calvo-Gonzalez, Oscar & Shankar, Rashmi & Trezzi, Riccardo, 2010. "Are commodity prices more volatile now ? a long-run perspective," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5460, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5460

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    8. Cuddington, John T., 1992. "Long-run trends in 26 primary commodity prices : A disaggregated look at the Prebisch-Singer hypothesis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 207-227, October.
    9. Kokoszka, Piotr & Leipus, Remigijus, 1998. "Change-point in the mean of dependent observations," Statistics & Probability Letters, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 385-393, November.
    10. Prebisch, Raúl, 1950. "The economic development of Latin America and its principal problems," Sede de la CEPAL en Santiago (Estudios e Investigaciones) 29973, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
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    Cited by:

    1. Harvey, David I. & Leybourne, Stephen J. & Sollis, Robert & Taylor, A.M. Robert, 2016. "Tests for explosive financial bubbles in the presence of non-stationary volatility," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(PB), pages 548-574.
    2. Rabah Arezki & Daniel Lederman & Hongyan Zhao, 2014. "The Relative Volatility of Commodity Prices: A Reappraisal," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(3), pages 939-951.
    3. Miffre, Joëlle & Brooks, Chris, 2013. "Do long-short speculators destabilize commodity futures markets?," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 230-240.
    4. Gil-Alana, Luis A. & Chang, Shinhye & Balcilar, Mehmet & Aye, Goodness C. & Gupta, Rangan, 2015. "Persistence of precious metal prices: A fractional integration approach with structural breaks," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 57-64.
    5. repec:ibn:ijefaa:v:9:y:2017:i:8:p:162-178 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Antonios Antypas & Phoebe Koundouri & Nikolaos Kourogenis, "undated". "Volatility Trends and Optimal Portfolios: the Case of Agricultural Commodities," DEOS Working Papers 1113, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    7. Vivian, Andrew & Wohar, Mark E., 2012. "Commodity volatility breaks," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 395-422.
    8. Dennis Alvaro & Ángel Guillén & Gabriel Rodríguez, 2017. "Modelling the volatility of commodities prices using a stochastic volatility model with random level shifts," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 153(1), pages 71-103, February.
    9. Mehmet Balcilar & Zeynel Abidin Ozdemir, 2018. "The volatility effect on precious metals prices in a stochastic volatility in mean model with time-varying parameters," Working Papers 15-34, Eastern Mediterranean University, Department of Economics.
    10. Marina Fischer-Kowalski & Dominik Wiedenhofer & Willi Haas & Irene Pallua & Daniel Hausknost, 2013. "Developing Resource use Scenarios for Europe," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 25, WWWforEurope.

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    Markets and Market Access; Emerging Markets; Access to Markets; Commodities; Economic Conditions and Volatility;

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