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The behavior of federal funds futures prices over the monetary policy cycle
The federal funds futures market enables market participants to both hedge interest rate risk and speculate on interest rate movements. Prices of federal funds futures also reveal market participants' expectations about changes in Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy. This information allows monetary policymakers to assess the degree to which asset prices already reflect potential policy moves and these prices' likely reaction to policy changes that deviate from market expectations. ; This article examines the relationship between U.S. monetary policy changes and futures market participants' ability to forecast these changes. Previous research has shown the federal funds futures market to be a relatively good forecaster of changes in the fed funds rate on average. But these studies treated futures market data as a single sample and failed to take into account the significant changes in forecast error behavior over different periods of the monetary policy cycle. ; The authors find that futures market forecast error mean and variance differ substantially over various stages of the monetary policy cycle, with overall performance improving considerably in the latter half of the 1990s before deteriorating sharply through 2000 and 2001. The data also reveal both substantial overshooting and undershooting by futures prices around turning points in the path of the funds rate. Finally, the evidence suggests that increased disclosures of information by the FOMC during the past decade have played only a minor role in improving futures market participants' forecasting performance.
AUTHORS: Moore, Jeff; Austin, Richard