Commodities are a large and important component of the global economy. The focus of this class is why commodity-producing companies may want to strategically hedge their commodity price exposures in the futures and options markets. Commodity producers generally want to hedge so they can free up their capital and put it to more interesting uses like expanding their companies.
We will spend considerable time exploring a model for the optimal hedging behavior of commodity producing companies. In particular, after reading the relevant research paper that describes a model of the economics of strategic hedging, we will re-derive the model and its implications, add a second commodity exposure to the model to expand its usefulness, and implement multiple versions of it in excel.
One exciting aspect of the class is that we’ll get access to two or three industry experts. Last year, we heard from Bob Greer, an Executive Vice President and Real Return Product Manager of PIMCO; Chris Calger, Managing Director, JPMorgan Global Commodities; Dave Rusate, Managing Director, Global Business Services, General Electric, responsible for commodities risk management; Sal Gilbertie, President, Chief Investment Officer and co-founder of Teucrium, a commodity ETF firm; and Blake Clayton, Adjunct Fellow for Energy, the Council on Foreign Relations.
We will briefly cover physical commodities and how the futures markets work, including forward curves, margins, and trading exposures. We will also briefly cover strategic investments in commodities by institutional investors, which turn out to be directly related to producer hedging. Through a paper-based futures trading contest, you will gain first-hand experience with the futures markets.
In practical terms, for this class you will need to be able to follow reasonably complex equations. I’ll do some derivations for the model and extensions of it. You will need to be able to interpret the economic significance of the resulting relationships and apply them to practical problems. You will also need to be able to apply the model to problems and calculate the producers’ optimal hedge ratios.
Melanie Petsch was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2010 to 2016.