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The rational expectations hypothesis and the cross-section of bond yields

  • Richard Harris

In the context of the bond market, empirical tests of the rational expectations hypothesis (REH) have without exception been tests of the time-series properties of interest rates. However, the REH also imposes restrictions on the cross-section of bond yields at each point in time. This study tests these restrictions using the Fama and MacBeth repeated cross-section regression procedure. Specifically, a long series of monthly cross-section regressions is estimated using zero coupon bond yield data for maturities from two months to thirty-five years. The REH is tested using the time-series average of the estimated slope parameter in the cross-section regressions. The maturity-specific risk premium is proxied by the time-series volatility of excess returns for each bond maturity. Time-variation in the risk premium is allowed for through time-variation in the volatility of excess returns, and in the market price of risk. While the risk premium proxy is significant in explaining the cross-section of excess returns, the REH is very strongly rejected.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Applied Financial Economics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 105-112

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Handle: RePEc:taf:apfiec:v:14:y:2004:i:2:p:105-112
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  1. Shiller, Robert & Campbell, John, 1991. "Yield Spreads and Interest Rate Movements: A Bird's Eye View," Scholarly Articles 3221490, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Bams, Dennis & Wolff, Christian C, 2000. "Risk Premia In The Term Structure Of Interest Rates: A Panel Data Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 2392, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Bekaert, Geert & Hodrick, Robert J. & Marshall, David A., 1997. "On biases in tests of the expectations hypothesis of the term structure of interest rates," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 309-348, June.
  8. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell & Kermit L. Schoenholtz, 1983. "Forward Rates and Future Policy: Interpreting the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(1), pages 173-224.
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  10. Chan, Louis K C & Hamao, Yasushi & Lakonishok, Josef, 1991. " Fundamentals and Stock Returns in Japan," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(5), pages 1739-64, December.
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