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Small Trends and Big Cycles in Crude Oil Prices

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We employ an unobserved components model to disentangle the long-term trend from cyclical movements in the price of internationally traded crude oil using data from 1861 to 2010. The in-sample estimation of the model identifies a deterministic quadratic trend and two types of cycles, with the short cycle having a period of 6 years and the long cycle of 29 years. Compared to the large amplitude of the cycles, the growth rate of the long-term trend is small. The out-of-sample forecasting performance of various competing models is compared to that of a "no change" random walk forecast. While the random walk forecast tends to be the most accurate at shorter horizons, it is outperformed by the trend-cycle models at horizons longer than one year. The results provide evidence of predictability in the price of crude oil at long horizons.

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Energy Specializations: Petroleum; Petroleum – Refining and Products; Petroleum – Markets and Prices for Crude Oil and Products; Energy Modeling – Energy Data, Modeling, and Policy Analysis

JEL Codes: Q31: Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation: Demand and Supply; Prices, C53: Forecasting Models; Simulation Methods, Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply; Prices, C58: Financial Econometrics

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.36.1.3

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Published in Volume 36, Number 1 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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