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Bubbles, Froth and Facts: Another Look at the Masters Hypothesis in Commodity Futures Markets


Journal of Agricultural Economics

Published online on


The Masters Hypothesis suggests that long‐only index funds were the main cause of a massive increase in commodity prices in 2007–2008 and 2011–2012. Central to the Masters Hypothesis are three basic tenets: (i) long‐only commodity index funds were directly responsible for driving futures prices higher; (ii) the deviations from fundamental value were economically very large; (iii) the impact was pervasive across commodity futures markets. There has been a great deal of empirical research on the Masters Hypothesis and commodity market bubbles. However, surprisingly few studies have found evidence that directly support the main tenets of the Masters Hypothesis. Some have attributed the lack of supporting evidence to the low‐power of time‐series tests, market efficiency issues and a lack of conditioning variables within models. In this paper, we address each of these issues using updated data and new empirical approaches. Still, price behaviour consistent with the Masters Hypothesis is surprisingly difficult to find in the data. This is an important finding given the on‐going policy debate and regulations proposed or being implemented to limit speculative positions in these markets.