Bridge over ocean
1 July 2016 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 72, Issue 4

Conquering Misperceptions about Commodity Futures Investing

  1. Claude B. Erb, CFA
  2. Campbell R. Harvey

Long-only commodity futures returns have been very disappointing over the last decade, leading some to wonder whether investing in commodities was a mistake. The poor performance is largely the result of poor “income returns,” a return building block similar to a stock’s dividend yield or a bond’s yield. Three misperceptions have contributed to this disappointment: (1) Commodities are a play on commodity prices, (2) commodity prices provide an inflation hedge, and (3) commodity markets, which are smaller than Facebook’s market capitalization, can absorb abundant capital. Learning from mistakes and conquering misperceptions are key to becoming a better investor.

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