Essays on Pricing Behaviors of Energy Commodities



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This dissertation investigates the pricing behaviors of two major energy commodities, U.S. natural gas and crude oil, using times series models. It examines the relationships between U.S. natural gas price variations and changes in market fundamentals within a two-state Markov-switching framework. It is found that the regime-switching model does a better forecasting job in general than the linear fundamental model without regime-switching framework, especially in the case of 1-step-ahead forecast.

Studies are conducted of the dynamics between crude oil price and U.S. dollar exchange rates. Empirical tests are applied to both full sample (1986?2010) and subsample (2002?2010) data. It is found that causality runs in both directions between the oil and the dollar. Meanwhile, a theoretical 5-country partial dynamic portfolio model is constructed to explain the dynamics between oil and dollar with special attention to the roles of China and Russia. It is shown that emergence of China?s economy enhances the linkage between oil and dollar due to China's foreign exchange policy.

Further research is dedicated to the role of speculation in crude oil and natural gas markets. First a literature review on theory of speculation is conducted. Empirical studies on speculation in commodity markets are surveyed, with special focus on energy commodity market. To test the theory that speculation may affect commodity prices by exaggerating the signals sent by market fundamentals, this essay utilizes the forecast errors from the first essay to investigate the forecasting ability of speculators' net long positions in the market. Limited evidence is provided to support the bubble theory in U.S. natural gas market.

In conclusion, this dissertation explores both fundamentals and speculators' roles in the U.S. natural gas and global crude oil markets. It is found that market fundamentals are the major driving forces for the two energy commodities price booms seen during the past several years.