پوپولیست ها در مقابل نظریه پردازان: بازار سلف و نوسانات قیمت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|13891||2007||21 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Explorations in Economic History, Volume 44, Issue 2, April 2007, Pages 342–362
In this paper, the divergence between popular and professional opinion on speculation in general and futures markets in particular is explored. Along the way, a synopsis of prevailing popular attitudes on futures markets is presented, and an outline of a formal model of futures markets and its implications for commodity price volatility are sketched. The heart of the analysis is drawn from the historical record on the establishment and prohibition of futures markets. Briefly, the results presented in this paper strongly suggest that futures markets were associated with—and most likely caused—lower commodity price volatility. The paper concludes with a discussion of potential sources of popular antagonism against futures markets.
Religious and social sentiments have generally aligned themselves strongly against the role of speculators, middlemen, and traders.3 Only in relatively recent times has some of this stigma begun to wear off, yet popular resentment of such agents remains undeniably widespread. Of course, these same actors are celebrated in the lore of the economics profession. Smith, Walras, Keynes, and countless others have reserved a crucial role for them in the smooth functioning of capitalism. Broadly then, what this paper attempts to address is the role of the speculator in the market. Specifically, the relationship between futures markets, speculation, and commodity price volatility is explored. This particular example is undoubtedly salient: in few other areas do popular views and those of most economists more widely diverge. The fundamental result of this paper is that futures markets are systematically associated with lower levels of commodity price volatility. The means for arriving at this result is a series of quasi-experiments with futures markets provided by history, namely their establishment as well as prohibition through time. In what follows, the paper provides a brief overview of popular perceptions on the issue of prices and futures markets, specifically in the context of the agrarian movement of the late nineteenth century United States. A model of markets with both storage and futures markets is presented and numerically analyzed. Next, the historical behavior of commodity price volatility is examined. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the sources of popular antagonism against futures markets.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In considering the relationship of commodity futures markets and prices, this paper has tried to reconcile the divergence between popular and, roughly speaking, professional opinion on the perceived effects of futures markets on the level of commodity price volatility. Along the way, a rough—but reasonably representative—synopsis of prevailing popular attitudes on futures markets was considered, and an outline of a formal model of futures markets and its implications for commodity price volatility were sketched. The heart of the analysis was drawn from the historical record on the establishment and prohibition of futures markets. Bringing an explicitly empirical approach to the question, this paper allows for a few positive conclusions. At a minimum, there is no evidence for the claim that futures markets are associated with higher commodity price volatility. Indeed, the results presented in this paper strongly suggest the opposite: futures markets were associated with, and most likely caused, lower commodity price volatility. So, if futures markets were not responsible for heightened commodity price volatility— as demonstrated in this study—or diminished prices to primary producers—as demonstrated by others, what explains popular opposition to their existence and operation? There are a few leads provided by the voluminous literature on agrarian discontent in the late 19 century United States. One view clearly implicates the producers themselves. Thus, North (1966) writes that ‘‘what was fundamentally at stake...[was that the farmer] found himself competing in a world market in which the fluctuations in price made no apparent sense to him’’ (p. 142). That is, producers were, in some sense, ignorant. Others are much more frank in their assessment: Not only were the farmers deficient in technical education, but as a class they lacked that knowledge of a more general nature which the best interest of their business demanded. They knew little of the conditions and prospects of the various crops throughout the country, and the probable future condition of the markets; they were ignorant of many of the usages of business; and the lack of knowledge of simple economic principles and their application to the politico-economic problems of the day made it difficult for them to reason intelligently in matters in which their own interest were at stake. (Buck, 1913, p. 38) Certainly, this—coupled with indignation over the handsome profits generated by agents—could provide impetus to popular agitation against futures markets. What is less certain is how producers could remain ignorant of the benefits of futures markets—in terms of hedging and price discovery opportunities—for so long. Another interpretation holds that ‘‘farmers were objecting to the increasing importance of prices; that they were protesting a system in which they had to pay for transport and money rather than the specific prices of transport and money’’ (Mayhew, 1972, p. 469, italics in original). In this view, ignorance on the part of producers plays little part. Instead, agrarian discontent was ‘‘a reaction to new, technologically superior inputs which replaced traditional inputs and which could be acquired only with money, and a reaction to the new need for cash to buy consumer goods which could not be supplied on-the-farm in the Plains area’’ (Mayhew, 1972, p. 469). This view has some intuitive appeal, yet there seems to be little sentiment to this effect from the contemporary populist literature. Furthermore, as Pashigian (1986, 1988) documents, some Midwest farmers continued the fight against futures markets well into the 1920s and 1930s. These later agitators may have been holdouts from days long gone. More likely, they were not and had formed their experiences and expectations of farming within a system of highly commercialized agriculture. A more fruitful approach might be found in explaining opposition to futures markets in the context of the concentration of economic power. The ruinous economic effects of ‘‘monopoly’’ were central to almost all complaints in the populist literature. The anticompetitive behavior of ‘‘combinations’’ was seen as pressing on all margins of farm life, and nowhere could this more clearly be seen than in the operations of the futures markets where the bulls and bears conspired against the common man by exploiting—and of course, heightening—the volatility of commodity prices (cf. Martin, 1873; Morgan, 1889). Part of this misunderstanding about the effects of futures markets on commodity price volatility is probably explainable by the ‘‘monopoly’’ of information held by purchasing agents, who often pointed to volatile conditions in the futures markets in determining purchasing terms at the local level (Hicks, 1931; Peffer, 1891). Thus, Pashigian (1988) provides limited evidence that opposition to futures markets in Midwestern states in the 1920s was correlated with the prevalence of line elevators which may have been operating as local cartels. Merchants were also quick to point out that farmers—thanks to the telegraph, newspapers, and the radio—were now aware of more profitable decisions with respect to production, marketing, and storage on the basis of futures market prices (Baer and Saxon, 1949). From this vantage point, it may be possible to generalize from the experience of the United States and make the claim that the combination of a growing familiarity with futures markets coupled with better access to information on prevailing market conditions explains the how initial opposition to futures markets is moderated over time. Empirically assessing the validity of this statement along with linking the effects of futures markets with the process of spatial market integration remain tasks for future research. An additional and more ambitious task will be in evaluating the full set of economic wrongs identified by the agrarian reformers of the late-nineteenth century.