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Scott H. Irwin    
Ph: (217) 333-6087
Fax: (217) 333-5538
sirwin@illinois.edu

 

Research

My lifelong fascination with commodity markets started as a young boy tagging along with my father to check the latest prices from ‘Chicago’ at our local grain elevator. I have had the good fortune of being able to continue research on these ever changing markets for my entire professional career. Specific research interests include price analysis and forecasting, forecast evaluation, performance of market advisory services, agricultural risk management, commodity market efficiency, and the behavior and role of speculators in commodity markets. My focus has always been on research that (hopefully) addresses timely and relevant questions of broad interest to market participants, regulators, and policymakers. A notable example is AgMAS, a long-term research project to provide unbiased and rigorous performance evaluations of agricultural market advisory services. The research results have been widely-used by U.S. farmers in deciding whether to subscribe to an advisory service and have also provided the foundation for a new generation of grain market ‘averaging’ contracts.

This section includes links to my most recent research publications and presentations. Many of my conference papers can be found at the AgEcon Search and NCCC-134 websites. You can also track citations to my research articles at this personalized Google Scholar page.

Recently Published Journal Articles (View All Articles)

Energy Futures Prices and Commodity Index Investment: New Evidence from Firm-Level Position Data Energy Economics 46(2014):S57–S68.

Price Explosiveness, Speculation, and Grain Futures Prices American Journal of Agricultural Economics, first published online: August 27, 2014, doi: 0.1093/ajae/aau069

Futures Market Failure? American Journal of Agricultural Economics, first published online: July 28, 2014, doi: 10.1093/ajae/aau067.

The Cost of Post-Harvest Forward Contracting in Corn and Soybeans Agribusiness,first published online June 3, 2014, doi: 10.1002/agr.21388.

The Behavior of Bid-Ask Spreads in the Electronically Traded Corn Futures Market American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96:557-577.

Bubbles in Food Commodity Markets: Four Decades of Evidence Journal of International Money and Finance 42(2014):129–155.

Commodity Index Investment and Food Prices: Does the "Masters Hypothesis" Explain Recent Price Spikes? Agricultural Economics 44(2013):29-41.

When Do the USDA Forecasters Make Mistakes? Applied Economics 45(2013):5086-5103.

Measuring Index Investment in Commodity Futures Markets The Energy Journal 34(2013):105-127.

Do Big Crops Get Bigger and Small Crops Get Smaller? Further Evidence on Smoothing in USDA Crop Production Forecasts Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 45(2013):95-107.

Returns to Individual Traders in Agricultural Futures Markets: Skill or Luck? Applied Economics 45(2013):3650-3666.

Working Papers

The ‘Necessity’ of New Position Limits in Agricultural Futures Markets: The Verdict from Daily Firm Level Position Data (November 2014)

Information Transmission between Livestock Futures and Expert Price Forecasts (November 2014)

The Cost of Pre-harvest Forward Contracting Corn and Soybeans in Volatile Markets (September 2014)

Do Index Traders Have Differential Price Impacts during Explosive and Non-Explosive Periods in Grain Futures Markets? (September 2014)

Forecast Performance of WASDE Price Projections for U.S. Corn (August 2014)

Commodity Storage under Backwardation: Does the Working Curve Still Work? (January 2014)

Behavioral Biases in Grain Marketing: Evidence from Market Advisory Service Recommendations (January 2009)

How to Hedge Selectively: A Bayesian Approach (November 2008)

The Profitability of Technical Trading Rules in US Futures Markets:A Data Mining Free Test (May 2005)

Does the Market Anticipate Smoothing in USDA Crop Production Forecasts? (August 2004)

Heterogeneity in Economic Behavior (May 2004)

farmdoc Publication Series

Marketing & Outlook Briefs (View Archived Publications)

USDA Corn and Soybean Acreage Estimates and Yield Forecasts: Dispelling Myths and Misunderstandings (Mar 2011)

Agricultural Policy Briefs (View Archived Publications)

Could a Variable Ethanol Blenders' Tax Credit Work? (Oct 2010)

Marketing & Outlook Research Reports (View Archived Publications)

Evaluation of Selected USDA WAOB and NASS Forecasts and Estimates in Corn and Soybeans (Jan 2014)

AgMAS Reports (View Archived Publications)

Report 2012-02: The Pricing Performance of Market Advisory Services in Cattle Over 1995-2004 (June 2012)

Report 2012-01: The Pricing Performance of Market Advisory Services in Hogs Over 1995-2004 (June 2012)

Miscellaneous Publications

Scott Irwin Answers Kocieniewski (Jan 2014) Guest blog post at Streetwise Professor

December 2013 NYT article and Links to Responses (Feb 2014)

Solving the Commodity Markets’ Non-Convergence Puzzle (August 2013) Amber Waves

Bubbles, Food Prices, and Speculation: Evidence from the CFTC’s Daily Large Trader Data Files (May 2013) NBER Working paper No. 19065

What We’ve Learned About Speculation (Oct 2012) Open Markets blog post

Blaming Energy Futures for Energy’s Current Costs (May 2012) Op-Ed in The Washington Times

The Impact of Index and Swap Funds on Commodity Futures Markets: Preliminary Results (Jun 2010) OECD Working Paper

The Impact of Index and Swap Funds in Commodity Futures Markets (Jun 2010) OECD Technical Report

Index Funds and Commodity Prices... Here We Go Again (Jul 2009) Guest blog post at Econbrowser

Comments on Permanent Senate Subcommittee on Investigations Report "Excessive Speculation in the Wheat Market" (Jul 2009)

Market Instability in a New Era of Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Prices (Apr 2009)
Choices, 1st Quarter 2009, 24(1)

The Misadventures of Mr. Masters: Act II (Sep 2008)
Guest blog post at Econbrowser

Futures Imperfect (Jul 2008)
Op-Ed in the New York Times

Is Speculation by Long-Only Index Funds Harmful to Commodity Markets? (Jul 2008)
Testimony Prepared for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture

Recent Convergence Performance of CBOT Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Futures Contracts (Jul 2008)
Choices, 2nd Quarter 2008, 23(2)

Recent Delivery Performance of CBOT Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Futures Contracts (Apr 2008)
Statement to the CFTC Agricultural Forum

Commodity Arbitrage (Apr 2008)
Guest blog post at Econbrowser

The Performance of Chicago Board of Trade Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Futures Contracts after Recent Changes in Speculative Limits (May 2007)

Presentations and Interviews

Bubbles, Froth, and Facts: The Masters Hypothesis and Recent Food Commodity Price Spikes (June 2014)
Keynote presentation at the IAMO Forum 2014, "The Rise of the 'Emerging Economies": Towards Functioning Agricultural Markets and Trade Relations

Futures Markets and Speculation: Lessons from the Past for Today (Oct 2012)
Chancellor’s Illinois Lecture

How Agricultural Economics Saved Futures Markets: An Untold Story of Leadership (Oct 2011)
William K. Deal Leadership Lecture, Iowa State University

Surveillance Midday (April 2011)
Interview with Tom Keene on Bloomberg Television

Feud Over Food Futures (Jan 2011)
Interview on CNBC

Feeding Frenzy (Jan 2011)
Interview on the BBC Radio 4 Program: "Face The Facts"

Devil or Angel: The Role of Speculation in the Recent Commodity Price Boom (Nov 2008)
Farrell Distinguished Public Policy Lecture, Department of Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

300 Bushels in Every Field? The Rising Debate about Corn Trend Yields (Apr 2008)
34th James C. Snyder Lecture to the Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University

What I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago about Writing and Submitting Journal Articles (Jul 2007)
Organized symposium presentation at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Agricultural Economics Association. The session was entitled, " Guidelines on Writing and Submitting Journal Articles."

Writing Competitive, Outstanding Proposals (Jul 2005)
Organized Symposium Presentation at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American Agricultural Economics Association. The session was entitled, "Preparing Social Science Research Proposals: Competing with Small Fish in a Big Pond, or Small Fish in a Small Pond?"

 

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