Discussion Paper

Speculation in Commodity Futures Markets, Inventories and the Price of Crude Oil

Abstract: This paper examines the role of inventories in re ners' gasoline production and develops a structural model of the relationship between crude oil prices and inventories. Using data on inventories and prices of oil futures, I show that convenience yields decrease at a diminishing rate as inventories increase, consistent with the theory of storage. In addition to exhibiting seasonal and procyclical behaviors, I show that the historical convenience yield averages about 18 percent of the oil price from March 1989 to November 2014. Although some have argued that a breakdown of the relationship between crude oil inventories and prices following increased nancial investors' participation after 2004 was evidence of an effect of speculation, I fi nd that the proposed price-inventory relationship is stable over time. The empirical evidence indicates that crude oil prices remained tied to oil-market fundamentals such as inventories, suggesting that the contribution of nancial investors' activities was weak.

Keywords: Convenience yield; Forecasting oil prices; Stable oil price-inventory relationship; Speculation; Theory of storage;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Part of Series: Occasional Papers

Publication Date: 2016-09-01

Number: 16-3