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The Long and the Short of It

October 21, 2008
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor

Linda Smith, Top Producer Executive Editor
Before we shoot ”the funds” for first causing a price bubble and then leaving ag markets, bursting that bubble and causing prices to plummet, consider a recent study by University of Illinois economists Dwight Sanders, Scott Irwin and Robert Merrin.
Their conclusions:
  1. If index fund activity affects prices, it would have shown up during 2004-05, when funds' growth as a percentage of open interest was most rapid.


  2. Funds have stabilized as a percent of open interest, "which mean other traders have adjusted their strategies in light of this relatively new market participant.”


  3. Long-only index funds may help "carry” unbalanced short hedging.
They conclude: "Proposals surfacing to increase margins in an effort to curb speculation may well be counterproductive in terms of price levels or market volatility. These policy initiatives could severely compromise the ability of futures market s to accommodate hedgers and facilitate the transfer of risk.

(Click to enlarge.)


Check out the study at

You can e-mail Linda Smith at

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