Commodity Investing

Yale ICF Working Paper No. 06-12

31 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2012 Last revised: 10 Aug 2012

See all articles by K. Geert Rouwenhorst

K. Geert Rouwenhorst

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance

Ke Tang

Tsinghua University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 7, 2012


This paper reviews the literature on commodities from the perspective of an investor. We re-examine some of the early papers in the literature using recent data, and find that the empirical support for the Theory of Normal Backwardation as an explanation for the commodity risk premium is weak, and that the evidence is more consistent with storage decisions. We then review the behaviour of the main participants in the commodity futures markets with a particular focus on their impact on prices. While there is continued disagreement in the literature about the role of speculative activity, our results show that money managers are generally momentum (positive feedback) traders, while producers are net short and contrarian (negative feedback) traders. There is less evidence that index traders and swap dealers trade based on past futures returns.

Keywords: Commodity futures, Theory of Storage, Theory of Normal Backwardation, Risk premium, Trader positions

JEL Classification: G13

Suggested Citation

Rouwenhorst, K. Geert and Tang, Ke, Commodity Investing (June 7, 2012). Yale ICF Working Paper No. 06-12. Available at SSRN: or

K. Geert Rouwenhorst (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-6046 (Phone)
203-432-8931 (Fax)

Ke Tang

Tsinghua University ( email )

Beijing, 100084

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