The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper examines the behavior of crude oil prices since 1980, and in particular the volatility of these prices. The empirical analysis covers “spot” prices for one of the key internationally traded crudes, namely Dated Brent Blend. A GARCH (generalized autoregressive conditional heteroscedastic) model, which allows the conditional variance to be time-variant, is estimated for the period which includes the oil price slump of 1986 and the surge in prices in 1990 as a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The paper also discusses the growth of futures and derivative markets and the dynamic links between spot and futures markets.