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K-State Today

April 12, 2013

In the market: Commodity course teaches students to manage economic risk

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Market risk is unavoidable, but it can be managed.

That concept is at the core of how Kansas State University's Sean Fox, professor of agricultural economics, teaches students the strategies they need for agricultural and economic risk management in an ever-changing market.

Fox's upcoming class, Commodity Futures, offered during August intersession, deals with the futures markets that farmers, ranchers and others can use to manage risks associated with price changes in grain and livestock commodities.

"By focusing on prices and price movement, students can enhance their understanding of the fundamental supply and demand factors that drive markets," Fox said.

The class includes a trade simulation where students compete against each other for cash prizes. They select markets based on their available capital, providing an opportunity for real investment decision-making and realizing actual profits or losses.

Although Fox also teaches the course during fall and spring terms, the intersession offering this summer means that trades will have a shorter duration of days versus weeks -- but the experience remains.

"Experiencing and analyzing how these markets work firsthand has been engaging and dynamic for students," Fox said. "They are able to see the purpose, operation and use of commodity futures and options markets as they make their investments."

Familiarity with commodity futures markets and how they are used benefits students considering careers or specializations in risk management, and others needing to understand price risk in commodities.

"The number of career opportunities in the area of risk management is increasing, particularly in agriculture," Fox said. "Students who have this insight and experience have gone on to careers in the grain and livestock industries, and careers as commodity brokers."

The course satisfies K-State 8 requirements in the areas of empirical and quantitative reasoning, and general education. It is open to students who have completed an introductory level course in microeconomics. Learn more about the course by contacting instructor Sean Fox at seanfox@k-state.edu.

May intersession is May 20-June 7 and August intersession is Aug. 5-21. View the available courses at http://www.dce.k-state.edu/intersession.

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