Understanding World Commodity Prices: Returns, Volatility and Diversification

44 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2008

Date Written: August 24, 2008


In recent times, the prices of internationally-traded commodities have reached record highs and are expected to continue growing in the foreseeable future. This phenomenon is partially driven by strong demand from a small number of emerging economies, such as China and India. This paper places the recent commodity price boom in historical context, drawing on an investigation of the long-term time-series properties, and presents unique features for 33 individual commodity prices. Using a new methodology for examining cross-sectional variation of commodity returns and its components, we find strong evidence that the prices of world primary commodities are extremely volatile. In addition, prices are roughly 30 percent more volatile under floating than under fixed exchange rate regimes. Finally, using the capital asset pricing model as a loose framework, we find that global macroeconomic risk components have become relatively more important in explaining commodity price volatility.

Suggested Citation

Chen, Mei-Hsiu, Understanding World Commodity Prices: Returns, Volatility and Diversification (August 24, 2008). 21st Australasian Finance and Banking Conference 2008 Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1253202 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1253202

Mei-Hsiu Chen (Contact Author)

UWA Business School ( email )

35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009

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