Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Public Policy


Andrew McKenzie

Committee Member

Brink Kerr, III

Second Committee Member

Eric Wailes


Agricultural Economics, Commodity Trading, Department of Agriculture, Markets


Understanding how humans behave has received increased attention in research in the most recent decades. While insights into human behavior are essential for the functioning of markets, these insights are also crucial for the guidance of policymaking and public spending decisions to ensure that markets are fair and accessible for all. This research has the unique opportunity to use a dataset of commercial grain trader transactions to study the decision-making and behavior of commercial traders in agricultural commodity markets rather than institutional investors or speculators.

Paper one focuses on the performance of commercial grain traders and their ability to perform above expectations consistently and the role of gender and experience in achieving their performance. First, a Fisher Exact ranking test is consulted in assessing the ability of traders to perform persistently in two consecutive periods. Next, a top and bottom rank test is used to evaluate the magnitude of their profitability over successive periods. In addition to the two tests for persistent trader performance, the influence of gender and experience were also investigated in paper one.

The second paper focuses on the use of reference points in the decision-making of commercial grain traders. For this study, a two-way panel data model was chosen to test the influence of a trader’s past performance or commodity price level, grain basis, influenced the purchasing decisions of commercial grain traders when purchasing grain with forward contracts. Past trader performance is measured in trader margin, calculated after a transaction is completed. The amount of bushels purchased and the forward contract length were investigated to capture risk in commodity markets by the size of the transaction or duration of the forward contract.

Finally, in the third paper, the role of the United States Department of Agriculture World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report is investigated regarding its public value compared to private estimates that try to forecast the stocks-use-ratio of commodities. In this paper, we also analyze the reaction of corn producers and not only the commercial grain traders. Further, the different grain marketing seasons and weeks around the release of the WASDE were tested for their importance in making buying or selling decisions in corn markets.

Included in

Public Policy Commons