Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Backwardation as the Long-Term Driver of Commodity Futures Performance: Evidence from Soy, Corn and Wheat Futures from 1950 to 2004

30 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2006

See all articles by Barry E. Feldman

Barry E. Feldman

IMCI, LLC

Hilary Till

Premia Research LLC; EDHEC-Risk Institute; J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities, University of Colorado Denver Business School; Global Commodities Applied Research Digest

Date Written: January 3, 2007

Abstract

We examine the role of backwardation in the performance of passive long positions in soybeans, corn and wheat futures over the period, 1950 to 2004. We find that over this period, backwardation has been highly predictive of the return of a passive long futures position when measured over long investment horizons. The share of return variance explained by backwardation rises from 24% at a one-year horizon to 64% using five-year time periods. A historical examination of soybean production and trading suggests that the profitability of a passive long soybean position during the early part of our sample may have resulted from inadequate inventories and storage facilities at the time. These conditions created the conditions for demand-driven price spikes. Further, the thin margins of soybean processors likely increased hedging demand. The implications for commodity investing are considered.

Keywords: Backwardation, commodities, corn, futures, mean reversion, roll yield, rolll return, soybeans, wheat

JEL Classification: G13, Q19

Suggested Citation

Feldman, Barry Edward and Till, Hilary, Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Backwardation as the Long-Term Driver of Commodity Futures Performance: Evidence from Soy, Corn and Wheat Futures from 1950 to 2004 (January 3, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=892387 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.892387

Barry Edward Feldman

IMCI, LLC ( email )

1 South Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60603
United States

Hilary Till (Contact Author)

Premia Research LLC ( email )

United States
312-583-1137 (Phone)
312-873-3914 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://customindices.spindices.com/custom-index-calculations/premia/all

EDHEC-Risk Institute

Nice
France

HOME PAGE: http://risk.edhec.edu/

J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities, University of Colorado Denver Business School ( email )

1475 Lawrence St.
Denver, CO 80202
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.business.ucdenver.edu/commodities

Global Commodities Applied Research Digest ( email )

J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities
1475 Lawrence Street
Denver, CO 80202
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.jpmcc-gcard.com/hilary-till

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