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- The propagation of regional shocks in housing markets: evidence from oil price shocks in Canada (2018)
- Shocks to the demand for housing that originate in one region may seem important only for that regional housing market. We provide evidence that such shocks can also affect housing markets in other regions. Our analysis focuses on the response of Canadian housing markets to oil price shocks. Oil price shocks constitute an important source of exogenous regional variation in income in Canada because oil production is highly geographically concentrated. We document that, at the national level, real oil price shocks account for 11% of the variability in real house price growth over time. At the regional level, we find that unexpected increases in the real price of oil raise housing demand and real house prices not only in oil-producing regions, but also in other regions. We develop a theoretical model of the propagation of real oil price shocks across regions that helps understand this finding. The model differentiates between oil-producing and non-oil-producing regions and incorporates multiple sectors, trade between provinces, government redistribution, and consumer spending on fuel. We empirically confirm the model prediction that oil price shocks are propagated to housing markets in non-oil-producing regions by the government redistribution of oil revenue and by increased interprovincial trade.

- The role of oil price shocks in causing U.S. recessions (2014)
- Although oil price shocks have long been viewed as one of the leading candidates for explaining U.S. recessions, surprisingly little is known about the extent to which oil price shocks explain recessions. We provide the first formal analysis of this question with special attention to the possible role of net oil price increases in amplifying the transmission of oil price shocks. We quantify the conditional recessionary effect of oil price shocks in the net oil price increase model for all episodes of net oil price increases since the mid-1970s. Compared to the linear model, the cumulative effect of oil price shocks over course of the next two years is much larger in the net oil price increase model. For example, oil price shocks explain a 3% cumulative reduction in U.S. real GDP in the late 1970s and early 1980s and a 5% cumulative reduction during the financial crisis. An obvious concern is that some of these estimates are an artifact of net oil price increases being correlated with other variables that explain recessions. We show that the explanatory power of oil price shocks largely persists even after augmenting the nonlinear model with a measure of credit supply conditions, of the monetary policy stance and of consumer confidence. There is evidence, however, that the conditional fit of the net oil price increase model is worse on average than the fit of the corresponding linear model, suggesting much smaller cumulative effects of oil price shocks for these episodes of at most 1%.

- Are product spreads useful for forecasting? An empirical evaluation of the Verleger hypothesis (2013)
- Notwithstanding a resurgence in research on out-of-sample forecasts of the price of oil in recent years, there is one important approach to forecasting the real price of oil which has not been studied systematically to date. This approach is based on the premise that demand for crude oil derives from the demand for refined products such as gasoline or heating oil. Oil industry analysts such as Philip Verleger and financial analysts widely believe that there is predictive power in the product spread, defined as the difference between suitably weighted refined product market prices and the price of crude oil. Our objective is to evaluate this proposition. We derive from first principles a number of alternative forecasting model specifications involving product spreads and compare these models to the no-change forecast of the real price of oil. We show that not all product spread models are useful for out-of-sample forecasting, but some models are, even at horizons between one and two years. The most accurate model is a time-varying parameter model of gasoline and heating oil spot spreads that allows the marginal product market to change over time. We document MSPE reductions as high as 20% and directional accuracy as high as 63% at the two-year horizon, making product spread models a good complement to forecasting models based on economic fundamentals, which work best at short horizons.

- Do oil price increases cause higher food prices? (2013)
- U.S. retail food price increases in recent years may seem large in nominal terms, but after adjusting for inflation have been quite modest even after the change in U.S. biofuel policies in 2006. In contrast, increases in the real prices of corn, soybeans, wheat and rice received by U.S. farmers have been more substantial and can be linked in part to increases in the real price of oil. That link, however, appears largely driven by common macroeconomic determinants of the prices of oil and agricultural commodities rather than the pass-through from higher oil prices. We show that there is no evidence that corn ethanol mandates have created a tight link between oil and agricultural markets. Rather increases in food commodity prices not associated with changes in global real activity appear to reflect a wide range of idiosyncratic shocks ranging from changes in biofuel policies to poor harvests. Increases in agricultural commodity prices in turn contribute little to U.S. retail food price increases, because of the small cost share of agricultural products in food prices. There is no evidence that oil price shocks have caused more than a negligible increase in retail food prices in recent years. Nor is there evidence for the prevailing wisdom that oil-price driven increases in the cost of food processing, packaging, transportation and distribution are responsible for higher retail food prices. Finally, there is no evidence that oil-market specific events or for that matter U.S. biofuel policies help explain the evolution of the real price of rice, which is perhaps the single most important food commodity for many developing countries.

- Forecasting the real price of oil in a changing world: a forecast combination approach : [Version November 13, 2013] (2013)
- The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) regularly publishes monthly and quarterly forecasts of the price of crude oil for horizons up to two years, which are widely used by practitioners. Traditionally, such out-of-sample forecasts have been largely judgmental, making them difficult to replicate and justify. An alternative is the use of real-time econometric oil price forecasting models. We investigate the merits of constructing combinations of six such models. Forecast combinations have received little attention in the oil price forecasting literature to date. We demonstrate that over the last 20 years suitably constructed real-time forecast combinations would have been systematically more accurate than the no-change forecast at horizons up to 6 quarters or 18 months. MSPE reduction may be as high as 12% and directional accuracy as high as 72%. The gains in accuracy are robust over time. In contrast, the EIA oil price forecasts not only tend to be less accurate than no-change forecasts, but are much less accurate than our preferred forecast combination. Moreover, including EIA forecasts in the forecast combination systematically lowers the accuracy of the combination forecast. We conclude that suitably constructed forecast combinations should replace traditional judgmental forecasts of the price of oil.

- Do high-frequency financial data help forecast oil prices? The MIDAS touch at work : [version november 20, 2013] (2013)
- The substantial variation in the real price of oil since 2003 has renewed interest in the question of how to forecast monthly and quarterly oil prices. There also has been increased interest in the link between financial markets and oil markets, including the question of whether financial market information helps forecast the real price of oil in physical markets. An obvious advantage of financial data in forecasting oil prices is their availability in real time on a daily or weekly basis. We investigate whether mixed-frequency models may be used to take advantage of these rich data sets. We show that, among a range of alternative high-frequency predictors, especially changes in U.S. crude oil inventories produce substantial and statistically significant real-time improvements in forecast accuracy. The preferred MIDAS model reduces the MSPE by as much as 16 percent compared with the no-change forecast and has statistically significant directional accuracy as high as 82 percent. This MIDAS forecast also is more accurate than a mixed-frequency realtime VAR forecast, but not systematically more accurate than the corresponding forecast based on monthly inventories. We conclude that typically not much is lost by ignoring high-frequency financial data in forecasting the monthly real price of oil.

- A general approach to recovering market expectations from futures prices with an application to crude oil (2014)
- Futures markets are a potentially valuable source of information about market expectations. Exploiting this information has proved difficult in practice, because the presence of a time-varying risk premium often renders the futures price a poor measure of the market expectation of the price of the underlying asset. Even though the expectation in principle may be recovered by adjusting the futures price by the estimated risk premium, a common problem in applied work is that there are as many measures of market expectations as there are estimates of the risk premium. We propose a general solution to this problem that allows us to uniquely pin down the best possible estimate of the market expectation for any set of risk premium estimates. We illustrate this approach by solving the long-standing problem of how to recover the market expectation of the price of crude oil. We provide a new measure of oil price expectations that is considerably more accurate than the alternatives and more economically plausible. We discuss implications of our analysis for the estimation of economic models of energy-intensive durables, for the debate on speculation in oil markets, and for oil price forecasting.

- Impulse response matching estimators for DSGE models (2014)
- One of the leading methods of estimating the structural parameters of DSGE models is the VAR-based impulse response matching estimator. The existing asympotic theory for this estimator does not cover situations in which the number of impulse response parameters exceeds the number of VAR model parameters. Situations in which this order condition is violated arise routinely in applied work. We establish the consistency of the impulse response matching estimator in this situation, we derive its asymptotic distribution, and we show how this distribution can be approximated by bootstrap methods. Our methods of inference remain asymptotically valid when the order condition is satisfied, regardless of whether the usual rank condition for the application of the delta method holds. Our analysis sheds new light on the choice of the weighting matrix and covers both weakly and strongly identified DSGE model parameters. We also show that under our assumptions special care is needed to ensure the asymptotic validity of Bayesian methods of inference. A simulation study suggests that the frequentist and Bayesian point and interval estimators we propose are reasonably accurate in finite samples. We also show that using these methods may affect the substantive conclusions in empirical work.

- The impact of the shale oil revolution on U.S. oil and gasoline prices (2014)
- This article examines how the shale oil revolution has shaped the evolution of U.S. crude oil and gasoline prices. It puts the evolution of shale oil production into historical perspective, highlights uncertainties about future shale oil production, and cautions against the view that the U.S. may become the next Saudi Arabia. It then reviews the role of the ban on U.S. crude oil exports, of capacity constraints in refining and transporting crude oil, of differences in the quality of conventional and unconventional crude oil, and of the recent regional fragmentation of the global market for crude oil for the determination of U.S. oil and gasoline prices. It discusses the reasons for the persistent wedge between U.S. crude oil prices and global crude oil prices in recent years and for the fact that domestic oil prices below global levels need not translate to lower U.S. gasoline prices. It explains why the shale oil revolution unlike the shale gas revolution is unlikely to stimulate a boom in oil-intensive manufacturing industries. It also explores the implications of shale oil production for the transmission of oil price shocks to the U.S. economy.

- Inside the crystal ball: new approaches to predicting the gasoline price at the pump (2015)
- Although there is much interest in the future retail price of gasoline among consumers, industry analysts, and policymakers, it is widely believed that changes in the price of gasoline are essentially unforecastable given publicly available information. We explore a range of new forecasting approaches for the retail price of gasoline and compare their accuracy with the no-change forecast. Our key finding is that substantial reductions in the mean-squared prediction error (MSPE) of gasoline price forecasts are feasible in real time at horizons up to two years, as are substantial increases in directional accuracy. The most accurate individual model is a VAR(1) model for real retail gasoline and Brent crude oil prices. Even greater reductions in MSPEs are possible by constructing a pooled forecast that assigns equal weight to five of the most successful forecasting models. Pooled forecasts have lower MSPE than the EIA gasoline price forecasts and the gasoline price expectations in the Michigan Survey of Consumers. We also show that as much as 39% of the decline in gas prices between June and December 2014 was predictable.