back·​ward·​a·​tion | \ ˌbakwə(r)ˈdāshən \
plural -s

Definition of backwardation

1 : the seller's postponement of delivery of stock or shares on the London Stock Exchange with the consent of the buyer upon payment of a premium to the latter
2 : the premium paid in backwardation — compare contango

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First Known Use of backwardation

1850, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for backwardation

backward entry 1 + -ation

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Time Traveler for backwardation

Time Traveler

The first known use of backwardation was in 1850

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Statistics for backwardation

Last Updated

31 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Backwardation.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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Financial Definition of backwardation

What It Is

Backwardation describes a downward sloping forward curve in a commodity market. This means that as the price of a commodity for future delivery is lower than the spot price -- the price of a commodity today.

How It Works

Backwardation starts when the cost of carry – i.e., storage, financing and convenience fees, exceeds the difference between the forward and spot price.

This situation usually arises when a commodity that normally experiences contango faces a positive demand or negative supply shock.  When this occurs, short term prices become greater than long term prices because consumers want the commodity immediately, despite the cost to hold the commodity.

Why It Matters

Backwardation is the opposite of contango. Both effects are important for rational pricing in futures markets, and sometimes present opportunities for investors to arbitrage price discrepancies.

Source: Investing Answers

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