DEFINITION of 'Backwardation'

A theory developed in respect to the price of a futures contract and the contract's time to expire. Backwardation says that as the contract approaches expiration, the futures contract will trade at a higher price compared to when the contract was further away from expiration. This is said to occur due to the convenience yield being higher than the prevailing risk free rate.


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BREAKING DOWN 'Backwardation'

When backwardation does occur in a futures market it has been suggested that an individual in the short position would benefit the most by delivering as late as possible.

Backwardation in futures contracts was called "normal backwardation" by economist John Maynard Keynes. This is because he believed that a price movement like the one suggested by backwardation was not random but consistent with the prevailing market conditions.

Backwardation is the opposite of contango.

Learn how to us this market condition to your advantage; check out What's the best way to play backwardation in the futures market?

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