Shiny Web Apps

RStudio’s Shiny web applications make it easy for statistics and data science people, who are not necessarily very experienced in web development, to build apps that are interactive. The shiny apps I have built so far are just for fun – mostly stuff related to watching commodity markets and the stock market.

Commodity Futures Forward Curves

This app displays the current forward curves in the corn, soybeans, Chicago wheat, WTI crude oil, and bitcoin futures markets. The forward curve tells you at a glance whether the market is in a state of surplus (upward sloped curve – called contango), or scarcity (flat or downward sloped curve – called backwardation).

U.S. Treasury Yield Curves


This app displays the current yield curves for U.S. treasuries, along with several historical dates for comparison. People watch the yield curve because of the signal is sends about the state of the economy. A nice steep curve suggests people need to be compensated a lot to tie up their money for a long time, and is indicative of good economic times and high economic growth. A flat or inverted yield curve is indicative of economic trouble since people willing to buy treasuries with low yield means prospects for future economic growth are poor. An inverted yield curve has preceded several major recessions.

Option Returns


This app illustrates how leverage works in option markets. Using simple Black-Scholes option prices, it shows how for the same money at stake a (long put or call) option position will make (and lose!) more money than a position in the underlying asset.


Price Analysis: A Fundamental  Approach to the Study of Commodity Prices


This is a book for beginners on commodity price analysis from a fundamental perspective. These chapters are derived from my lecture notes used to teach ACE 427: Commodity Price Analysis at the University of Illinois.

This book is targeted at the upper level undergraduate student, or professional beginning a career related to commodity markets. The objective is to familiarize the reader with the sources of market information and research commonly used by practicing professionals working in the industry.