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The relative volatility of commodity prices : a reappraisal

  • Arezki, Rabah
  • Lederman, Daniel
  • Zhao, Hongyan

This paper studies the volatility of commodity prices on the basis of a large dataset of monthly prices observed in international trade data from the United States over the period 2002 to 2011. The conventional wisdom in academia and policy circles is that primary commodity prices are more volatile than those of manufactured products, although most of the existing evidence does not actually attempt to measure the volatility of prices of individual goods or commodities. The literature tends to focus on trends in the evolution and volatility of ratios of price indexes composed of multiple commodities and products. This approach can be misleading. Indeed, the evidence presented in this paper suggests that on average prices of individual primary commodities are less volatile than those of individual manufactured goods. However, the challenges of managing terms of trade volatility in developing countries with concentrated export baskets remain.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5903.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5903
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  1. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2008. "Financial Crash, Commodity Prices and Global Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 14521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Garry F. Barrett & Stephen G. Donald, 2003. "Consistent Tests for Stochastic Dominance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 71-104, January.
  3. repec:idb:brikps:59538 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  5. Paul Cashin & C. John McCDermott, 2002. "The Long-Run Behavior of Commodity Prices: Small Trends and Big Variability," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 49(2), pages 2.
  6. Angus Deaton & Guy Laroque, 2002. "A Model of Commodity Prices after Sir Arthur Lewis," Working Papers 2002-19, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  7. Frederick van der Ploeg, 2011. "Natural Resources: Curse or Blessing?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 366-420, June.
  8. Rabah Arezki & Markus Bruckner, 2011. "Food Prices and Political Instability," IMF Working Papers 11/62, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis & Peter K. Schott, 2002. "U.S. Imports, Exports, and Tariff Data, 1989-2001," NBER Working Papers 9387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Anthony J. Venables & William Maloney & Ari Kokko & Claudio Bravo Ortega & Daniel Lederman & Roberto Rigobón & José De Gregorio & Jesse Czelusta & Shamila A. Jayasuriya & Magnus Blomström & L. Colin X, 2007. "Natural Resources: Neither Curse nor Destiny," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 59538 edited by William Maloney & Daniel Lederman.
  11. Markus Brückner & Antonio Ciccone, 2007. "International commodity prices, growth and the outbreak of Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economics Working Papers 1053, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Aug 2009.
  12. Delgado, Miguel A. & Farinas, Jose C. & Ruano, Sonia, 2002. "Firm productivity and export markets: a non-parametric approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 397-422, August.
  13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:2:p:646-677 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. David I. Harvey & Neil M. Kellard & Jakob B. Madsen & Mark E. Wohar, 2010. "The Prebisch-Singer Hypothesis: Four Centuries of Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 367-377, May.
  15. 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.
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