The term structure of real rates and expected inflation
Changes in nominal interest rates must be due to either movements in real interest rates or expected inflation, or both. We develop a term structure model with regime switches, time-varying prices of risk and inflation to identify these components of the nominal yield curve. We find that the unconditional real rate curve is fairly flat at 1.44%, but slightly humped. In one regime, the real term structure is steeply downward sloping. Real rates (nominal rates) are pro-cyclical (counter-cyclical) and inflation is negatively correlated with real rates. An inflation risk premium that increases with the horizon fully accounts for the generally upward sloping nominal term structure. We find that expected inflation drives about 80% of the variation of nominal yields at both short and long maturities, but during normal times, all of the variation of nominal term spreads is due to expected inflation and inflation risk.
AUTHORS: Ang, Andrew; Bekaert, Geert
Inflation and the stock market: Understanding the “Fed Model”
The so-called Fed model postulates that the dividend or earnings yield on stocks should equal the yield on nominal Treasury bonds, or at least that the two should be highly correlated. In US data there is indeed a strikingly high time series correlation between the yield on nominal bonds and the dividend yield on equities. This positive correlation is often attributed to the fact that both bond and equity yields comove strongly and positively with expected inflation. While inflation comoves with nominal bond yields for well-known reasons, the positive correlation between expected inflation and equity yields has long puzzled economists. We show that the effect is consistent with modern asset pricing theory incorporating uncertainty about real growth prospects and also habit-based risk aversion. In the US, high expected inflation has tended to coincide with periods of heightened uncertainty about real economic growth and unusually high risk aversion, both of which rationally raise equity yields. Our findings suggest that countries with a high incidence of stagflation should have relatively high correlations between bond yields and equity yields and we confirm that this is true in a panel of international data.
AUTHORS: Bekaert, Geert; Engstrom, Eric
\\"Peso problem\\" explanations for term structure anomalies
We examine the empirical evidence on the expectation hypothesis of the term structure of interest rates in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany using the Campbell-Shiller (1991) regressions and a vector-autoregressive methodology. We argue that anomalies in the U.S. term structure, documented by Campbell and Shiller (1991), may be due to a generalized peso problem in which a high-interest rate regime occurred less frequently in the sample of U.S. data than was rationally anticipated. We formalize this idea as a regime-switching model of short-term interest rates estimated with data from seven countries. Technically, this model extends recent research on regime-switching models with state-dependent transitions to a cross-sectional setting. Use of the small sample distributions generated by regime-switching model for inference considerably weakens the evidence against the expectations hypothesis, but it remains somewhat implausible that our data-generating process produced the U.S. data. However, a model that combines moderate time-variation in term premiums with peso-problem effects is largely consistent with term-structure data from the U.S., U.K., and Germany.
AUTHORS: Bekaert, Geert; Marshall, David A.; Hodrick, Robert J.
On biases in tests of the expectations hypothesis of the term structure of interest rates
We document extreme bias and dispersion in the small sample distributions of five standard regression tests of the expectations hypothesis of the term structure of interest rates. These biases derive from the extreme persistence in short interest rates. We derive approximate analytic expressions for these biases, and we characterize the small-sample distributions of these test statistics under a simple first-order autoregressive data generating process for the short rate. The biases are also present when the short rate is modeled with a more realistic regime-switching process. The differences between the small-sample distributions of test statistics and the asymptotic distributions partially reconcile the different inferences drawn when alternative tests are used to evaluate the expectations hypothesis. In general, the test statistics reject the expectations hypothesis more strongly and uniformly when they are evaluated using the small-sample distributions, as compared to the asymptotic distributions.
AUTHORS: Bekaert, Geert; Hodrick, Robert J.; Marshall, David A.
The implications of first-order risk aversion for asset market risk premiums
AUTHORS: Bekaert, Geert; Hodrick, Robert J.; Marshall, David A.
Equity market liberalization in emerging markets
AUTHORS: Lundblad, Christian T.; Harvey, Campbell; Bekaert, Geert
Flights to Safety
Using only daily data on bond and stock returns, we identify and characterize flight to safety (FTS) episodes for 23 countries. On average, FTS days comprise less than 3% of the sample, and bond returns exceed equity returns by 2.5 to 4%. The majority of FTS events are country-specific not global. FTS episodes coincide with increases in the VIX and the Ted spread, decreases in consumer sentiment indicators and appreciations of the Yen, Swiss franc, and US dollar. The financial, basic materials and industrial industries under-perform in FTS episodes, but the telecom industry outperforms. Money market instruments, corporate bonds, and commodity prices (with the exception of metals, including gold) face abnormal negative returns in FTS episodes. Hedge funds, especially those belonging to the "event-driven" styles, display negative FTS betas, after controlling for standard risk factors. Liquidity deteriorates on FTS days both in the bond and equity markets. Both economic growth and inflation decline right after and up to a year following a FTS spell.
AUTHORS: Baele, Lieven; Bekaert, Geert; Inghelbrecht, Koen; Wei, Min
Do macro variables, asset markets, or surveys forecast inflation better?
Surveys do! We examine the forecasting power of four alternative methods of forecasting U.S. inflation out-of-sample: time series ARIMA models; regressions using real activity measures motivated from the Phillips curve; term structure models that include linear, non-linear, and arbitrage-free specifications; and survey-based measures. We also investigate several methods of combining forecasts. Our results show that surveys outperform the other forecasting methods and that the term structure specifications perform relatively poorly. We find little evidence that combining forecasts produces superior forecasts to survey information alone. When combining forecasts, the data consistently places the highest weights on survey information.
AUTHORS: Ang, Andrew; Bekaert, Geert; Wei, Min
Macro Risks and the Term Structure of Interest Rates
We use non-Gaussian features in U.S. macroeconomic data to identify aggregate supply and demand shocks while imposing minimal economic assumptions. Recessions in the 1970s and 1980s were driven primarily by supply shocks, later recessions were driven primarily by demand shocks, and the Great Recession exhibited large negative shocks to both demand and supply. We estimate "macro risk factors" that drive "bad" (negatively skewed) and "good" (positively skewed) variation for supply and demand shocks. The Great Moderation is mostly accounted for by a reduction in good variance. In contrast, bad variances for both supply and demand shocks, which account for most recessions, shows no secular decline. We document that macro risks significantly contribute to the variation yields, risk premiums and return variances for nominal bonds. While overall bond risk premiums are counter-cyclical, an increase in demand variance lowers risk premiums.
AUTHORS: Bekaert, Geert; Engstrom, Eric; Ermolov, Andrey
Risk, uncertainty, and asset prices
We identify the relative importance of changes in the conditional variance of fundamentals (which we call "uncertainty") and changes in risk aversion ("risk" for short) in the determination of the term structure, equity prices, and risk premiums. Theoretically, we introduce persistent time-varying uncertainty about the fundamentals in an external habit model. The model matches the dynamics of dividend and consumption growth, including their volatility dynamics and many salient asset market phenomena. While the variation in dividend yields and the equity risk premium is primarily driven by risk, uncertainty plays a large role in the term structure and is the driver of counter-cyclical volatility of asset returns.
AUTHORS: Bekaert, Geert; Engstrom, Eric; Xing, Yuhang