The Predictive Content of Commodity Futures
Menzie David Chinn
University of Wisconsin, Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs and Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
College of William and Mary
October 16, 2009
La Follette School of Public Affairs Working Paper No. 2009-016
This paper examines the relationship between spot and futures prices for commodities, including those for energy (crude oil, gasoline, heating oil markets and natural gas), precious and base metals (gold, silver, aluminum, copper, lead, nickel and tin), and agricultural commodities (corn, soybean and wheat). In particular, we examine whether futures prices are (1) an unbiased and/or (2) accurate predictor of subsequent spot prices. We find that while energy futures prices are generally unbiased predictors of future spot prices, there are certain notable exceptions. For both base and precious metals, the results are much less favorable to unbiasedness hypothesis. For precious metals and copper and lead, we strongly reject the null that β=1 at all three horizons. For the these other base metals, while we cannot reject that β=1, due to large standard errors. Finally, both corn and soybean futures have β close to 1, while wheat has β<1. Excepting oil and base metals, futures tend to outperform a random walk specification in out of sample forecasts.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: futures, energy, petroleum, natural gas, heating oil, gasoline, precious metals, base metals, agricultural commodities, forecasting, efficient markets hypothesis, backwardation, contango
JEL Classification: G13, Q43working papers series
Date posted: October 21, 2009
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