Through the use of laboratory market methodology, the effect of a futures market on the time path of asset prices is studied and competing models of asset pricing are analyzed. With replication of market conditions, the predictions of a rational expectations equilibrium model are relatively accurate whether or not futures markets are present. However, the presence of futures markets increases the speed with which an efficient equilibrium is achieved. While this more rapid adjustment can increase the variance of spot market prices as they move to equilibrium, this increased variance reflects efficiency gains due to better information.
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