Does Futures Exhibit Maturity Effect? New Evidence from an Extensive Set of Us and Foreign Futures Contracts
Posted: 16 May 2009
Date Written: May 16, 2006
In a seminal article, Samuelson (1965) [Samuelson, P. A. (1965), “Proof that properly anticipated prices fluctuate randomly,” Industrial Management Review 6, 41–49.] proposes the maturity effect that the volatility of futures prices should increase as futures contract approaches maturity. This study provides new evidence on the maturity effect by examining a more extensive set of futures contracts than previous studies and analyzing each contract separately. Using 6805 futures contracts drawn from 61 commodities, including some data from non-US markets, we find that the maturity effect is absent in the majority of contracts. In addition, the maturity effect tends to be stronger in agricultural and energy commodities than in financial futures. We also examine the hypothesis in Bessembinder et al. (1996) [Bessembinder, H., J. F. Coughenour, P. J. Seguin, & M. M. Smoller (1996), “Is there a term structure of futures volatilities? Reevaluating the Samuelson hypothesis,” Journal of Derivatives 4, 45–58.], which states that negative covariance between the spot price and net carry cost causes the maturity effect in futures. Our results provide very weak evidence in favor of this hypothesis.
Keywords: Maturity effect, Futures prices volatility, Futures markets
JEL Classification: C32, G12, G13, Q14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation