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.
Rabah Arezki, Kaddour Hadri, Prakash Loungani, and Yao Rao
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
In this paper, we re-examine two important aspects of the dynamics of relative primary commodity prices, namely the secular trend and the short run volatility. To do so, we employ 25 series, some of them starting as far back as 1650 and powerful panel data stationarity tests that allow for endogenous multiple structural breaks. Results show that all the series are stationary after allowing for endogeneous multiple breaks. Test results on the Prebisch-Singer hypothesis, which states that relative commodity prices follow a downward secular trend, are mixed but with a majority of series showing negative trends. We also make a first attempt at identifying the potential drivers of the structural breaks. We end by investigating the dynamics of the volatility of the 25 relative primary commodity prices also allowing for endogenous multiple breaks. We describe the often time-varying volatility in commodity prices and show that it has increased in recent years.