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Oil volatility and the option value of waiting : an analysis of the G-7

2009-08, Bredin, Donal, Elder, John, Fountas, Stilianos

There has recently been considerable interest in the potential adverse effects associated with excessive uncertainty in energy futures markets. Theoretical models of investment under uncertainty predict that increased uncertainty will tend to induce firms to delay investment. These models are widely utilized in capital budgeting decisions, particularly in the energy sector. There is relatively little empirical evidence, however, on whether such channels have industry-wide effects. Using a sample of G7 countries we examine whether uncertainty about a prominent commodity – oil – affects the time series variation in manufacturing activity. Our primary result is consistent with the predictions of real options theory – uncertainty about oil prices has had a negative and significant effect on manufacturing activity in Canada, France, UK and US.