Joint Discussion Paper Series in Economics 31-2016
In 2001 began a rise in the prices of food commodities not seen since the 1970s. The prices of grains - the major staple foods - increased fivefold between 2003 and 2008, leading to the additional malnutrition of millions around the world. Many observers attribute the strong increase in part to speculation in derivatives markets. We examine this hypothesis by comparing the impact of speculation to that of fundamental supply and demand forces. We estimate the share of the price increase attributable to the respective market forces using a sign identified structural vector autoregressive model. Speculation is identifid using storage data, though a residual price shock is allowed to ensure the robustness of the findings.