Business Cycles and the Behavior of Metals Prices

  • Author(s): EUGENE F. FAMA, KENNETH R. FRENCH
  • Published: Apr 30, 2012
  • Pages: 1075-1093
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.1988.tb03957.x

ABSTRACT

The theory of storage says that the marginal convenience yield on inventory falls at a decreasing rate as inventory increases. The authors test this hypothesis by examining the relative variation of spot and futures prices for metals. As the hypothesis implies, futures prices are less variable than spot prices when inventory is low, but spot and futures prices have similar variability when inventory is high. The theory of storage also explains inversions of “normal” futures‐spot price relations around business‐cycle peaks. Positive demand shocks around peaks reduce metal inventories and, as the theory predicts, generate large convenience yields and price inversions.

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