Shock propagation across the futures term structure: Evidence from crude oil prices

Delphine H. Lautier, Franck Raynaud, Michel A. Robe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To what extent are futures prices interconnected across the maturity curve? Where in the term structure do price shocks originate, and which maturities do they reach? We propose a new approach, based on information theory, to study these cross-maturity linkages and the extent to which connectedness is impacted by market events. We introduce the concepts of backward and forward information flows, and propose a novel type of directed graph, to investigate the propagation of price shocks across the WTI term structure. Using daily data, we show that the mutual information shared by contracts with different maturities increases substantially starting in 2004, falls back sharply in 2011-2014, and recovers thereafter. Our findings point to a puzzling re-segmentation by maturity of the WTI market in 2012-2014. We document that, on average, short-dated futures emit more information than do backdated contracts. Importantly, however, we also show that significant amounts of information flow backwards along the maturity curve-almost always from intermediate maturities, but at times even from fardated contracts. These backward flows are especially strong and far-reaching amid the 2007-2008 oil price boom/bust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-153
Number of pages29
JournalEnergy Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Crude oil
  • Directed graphs
  • Futures
  • Information entropy
  • Market integration
  • Mutual information
  • Shock propagation
  • Term structure
  • WTI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • General Energy


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