Modeling Fluctuations in the Global Demand for Commodities

63 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2017

See all articles by Lutz Kilian

Lutz Kilian

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Xiaoqing Zhou

Bank of Canada

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2017


It is widely understood that the real price of globally traded commodities is determined by the forces of demand and supply. One of the main determinants of the real price of commodities is shifts in the demand for commodities associated with unexpected fluctuations in global real economic activity. There have been numerous proposals for quantifying global real economic activity. We discuss which criteria a measure of global real activity must satisfy to be useful for modeling commodity prices, we examine which of the many alternative measures in the literature are most suitable for applied work, and we explain why some popular measures are inappropriate for modeling commodity prices. Given these insights, we reexamine in detail the question of whether global real economic activity has declined since 2011 and by how much. Drawing on a range of new evidence, we show that the global commodity price boom of the 2000s appears to have been largely transitory. Our analysis has important implications for the design of structural models of commodity markets, for the analysis of the transmission of commodity price shocks to commodity-importing and exporting economies, and for commodity price forecasting.

Keywords: Commodity market, demand, global economy, international business cycle, leading indicators, oil price, real economic activity

JEL Classification: F44, Q11, Q31, Q41, Q43

Suggested Citation

Kilian, Lutz and Zhou, Xiaoqing, Modeling Fluctuations in the Global Demand for Commodities (October 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12357. Available at SSRN:

Lutz Kilian (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
734-764-2320 (Phone)
734-764-2769 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Xiaoqing Zhou

Bank of Canada ( email )

234 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G9

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