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Carry Trades and Global Foreign Exchange Volatility

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  • LUKAS MENKHOFF
  • LUCIO SARNO
  • MAIK SCHMELING
  • ANDREAS SCHRIMPF

Abstract

We investigate the relation between global foreign exchange (FX) volatility risk and the cross-section of excess returns arising from popular strategies that borrow in low interest rate currencies and invest in high-interest rate currencies, so-called 'carry trades'. We find that high interest rate currencies are negatively related to innovations in global FX volatility and thus deliver low returns in times of unexpected high volatility, when low interest rate currencies provide a hedge by yielding positive returns. Our proxy for global FX volatility risk captures more than 90% of the cross-sectional excess returns in five carry trade portfolios. In turn, these results provide evidence that there is an economically meaningful risk-return relation in the FX market. Further analysis shows that liquidity risk also matters for expected FX returns, but to a lesser degree than volatility risk. Finally, exposure to our volatility risk proxy also performs well for pricing returns of other cross sections in foreign exchange, U.S. equity, and corporate bond markets.
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Suggested Citation

  • Lukas Menkhoff & Lucio Sarno & Maik Schmeling & Andreas Schrimpf, 2012. "Carry Trades and Global Foreign Exchange Volatility," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(2), pages 681-718, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:67:y:2012:i:2:p:681-718
    DOI: j.1540-6261.2012.01728.x
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets

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