Do Firms Sell Forward for Strategic Reasons? An Application to the Wholesale Market for Natural Gas
Remco van Eijkel
University of Groningen
José L. Moraga-González
VU University Amsterdam; University of Groningen
June 21, 2010
IESE Business School Working Paper No. 864
Building on a model of the interaction of risk-averse firms that compete in forward and spot markets, we develop an empirical strategy to test whether oligopolistic firms use forward contracts for strategic motives, for risk-hedging, or for both. An increase in the number of players weakens the incentives to sell forward for risk-hedging reasons. However, if strategic motives are also relevant, then an increase in the number of players strengthens the incentives to sell forward. This difference provides the analyst with a way to identify whether strategic considerations are important at motivating firms to sell forward. Using data from the Dutch wholesale market for natural gas where we observe the number of players, spot and forward sales, and churn rates, we find evidence that strategic reasons play an important role at explaining the observed firms' (inverse) hedge ratios. In addition, the data lend support to the existence of a learning effect by wholesalers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: market power, risk-hedging, forward contracts, spot market, over-the-counter trade, market transparency, churn rates
JEL Classification: D43, L13, G13, L95
Date posted: July 21, 2010
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