We propose using a new relative measure, the speculative ratio, defined as trading volume divided by open interest, to gauge speculative activity in the oil futures market. We apply the speculative ratio to examine the relation between basis and speculative activity in the oil futures market before and after the financialization of the oil market in 2003. Our finding suggests that the oil futures market is dominated by uninformed speculators in the post-financialization period. Our finding carries several practical policy implications, as follows: (1) both the commodity exchange and the regulator should design regulations and trading policies that improve basis risk; (2) on the commodity exchange side, new policies on margin requirements and position limits for speculators should be implemented; (3) margin requirements should be based on the level of basis risk; (4) regulators should speed up implementation of the position limit rule in the Dodd–Frank Act; and (5) stronger and more meaningful enforcement actions by regulators are required to punish and deter market manipulators.
Energy Policy – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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