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Since the 2007-09 financial crisis, the prices of closely related assets have shown persistent deviations?so-called basis spreads. Because such disparities create apparent profit opportunities, the question arises of why they are not arbitraged away. In a recent Staff Report, we argue that post-crisis changes to regulation and market structure have increased the costs to banks of participating in spread-narrowing trades, creating limits to arbitrage. In addition, although one might expect hedge funds to act as arbitrageurs, we find evidence that post-crisis regulation affects not only the ...
Around and Around: The Expectations Hypothesis
We show how to construct arbitrage-free models of he term structure of interest rates in which various expectations hypotheses can hold. McCulloch (1993) provided a Gaussian non-Markovian example of the unbiased expectations hypothesis (U--EH), thereby contradicting the assertion by Cox, Ingersoll, and Ross (CIR, 1981) that only the so-called local expectations hypothesis could hold. We generalize that example in three ways: (i) We characterize the U--EH in terms of forward rates; (ii) we extend this characterization to a class of expectations hypotheses that includes all of those considered ...
Is Bitcoin Really Frictionless?
Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency yet developed. Proponents assert that bitcoin can remove frictions involved in payment and settlement systems by eliminating the need for the financial intermediaries that exist in traditional currencies. In this blog post, we show that while bitcoin transfers themselves are relatively frictionless for the user, there are significant frictions when bitcoins trade in exchange markets resulting in meaningful and persistent price differences across bitcoin exchanges. These exchange-related frictions reduce the incentive of market participants to use ...
Cash-Forward Arbitrage and Dealer Capital in MBS Markets: COVID-19 and Beyond ves
We examine the economic mechanisms that limited arbitrage between the cash and forward markets of agency MBS, and whether asset purchases of the Federal Reserve (Fed) alleviated price dislocations. We find that the cash-forward basis, or the price difference between the cash and forward markets of agency MBS controlling for differences in fundamentals, widened significantly—by $0.9 per $100 face value during the height of the COVID-19 crisis. The widening basis was accompanied by a significant increase in selling by customers in the cash market, indicating a “scramble for cash” ...