Essays on the workings and uses of futures markets
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This dissertation investigates various issues of interest regarding the workings and uses of commodity futures markets. Chapter II evaluates the relative performances of various estimators of bid-ask spreads in futures markets using commonly available transaction data. Results indicate a wide divergence in the performance of the competing estimators. This chapter also examines the effect of automating trading on spreads in commodity futures markets. Results indicate that spreads generally widened after trading was automated on the markets considered, and the tendency for spreads to widen during periods of high volatility increased. These results are in contrast to those found in higher volume financial futures markets. Chapter III investigates various unresolved issues regarding futures markets, using formal methods appropriate for inferring causal relationships from observational data when some relevant quantities are hidden. I find no evidence supporting the generalized version of Keynes's theory of normal backwardation. I find no evidence supporting theories that predict that the level of activity of speculators or uninformed traders affects the level of price volatility, either positively or negatively. My evidence strongly supports the mixture of distribution hypothesis (MDH) that trading volume and price volatility have one or more latent common causes, resulting in their positive correlation. Chapter IV examines partial equilibrium and statistical approaches to hedging. Different types of hedgers have traditionally used each of two approaches: derivatives dealers and market makers have typically used the former approach to hedge their portfolios, while commodity producers and consumers more commonly use the latter. This research provides the first known comparison of the out-of-sample hedging performance of the two approaches. Results indicate that for a simple derivative with a linear payoff function (a futures contract), the statistical models significantly outperform the partial equilibrium models considered here.
Bryant, Henry L., IV (2003). Essays on the workings and uses of futures markets. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from