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How Important Is Liquidity Risk for Sovereign Bond Risk Premia? Evidence from the London Stock Exchange


  • Ron Alquist


This paper uses the framework of arbitrage-pricing theory to study the relationship between liquidity risk and sovereign bond risk premia. The London Stock Exchange in the late 19th century is an ideal laboratory in which to test the proposition that liquidity risk affects the price of sovereign debt. This period was the last time that the debt of a heterogeneous set of countries was traded in a centralized location and that a sufficiently long time series of observable bond prices are available to conduct asset-pricing tests. Empirical analysis of these data establishes three new results. First, sovereign bonds with wide bid-ask spreads earn 3-4% more per year than bonds with narrow bid-ask spreads, and the difference is reflected in greater sensitivity to innovations in market liquidity. Second, small sovereign bonds, as measured by market value, earn 1.8-3.5% more per year than large sovereign bonds, and the difference is also reflected in their exposure to innovations in market liquidity. Third, market liquidity is a state variable important for pricing the cross-section of sovereign bonds. This paper thus provides estimates of the quantitative importance of liquidity risk as a determinant of the sovereign risk premium and underscores the significance of market liquidity as a nondiversifiable risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Ron Alquist, 2008. "How Important Is Liquidity Risk for Sovereign Bond Risk Premia? Evidence from the London Stock Exchange," Staff Working Papers 08-47, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:08-47

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    Cited by:

    1. Flandreau, Marc & Oosterlinck, Kim, 2012. "Was the emergence of the international gold standard expected? Evidence from Indian Government securities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(7), pages 649-669.
    2. Richard C.K. Burdekin & Kris James Mitchener & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2012. "Irving Fisher and Price‐Level Targeting in Austria: Was Silver the Answer?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44(4), pages 733-750, June.
    3. Chavaz, Matthieu & Flandreau, Marc, 2017. "“High & Dry”: The Liquidity and Credit of Colonial and Foreign Government Debt and the London Stock Exchange (1880–1910)," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(03), pages 653-691, September.
    4. repec:wsi:rpbfmp:v:20:y:2017:i:02:n:s0219091517500084 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Chavaz, Matthieu & Flandreau, Marc, 2015. "‘High and dry’: the liquidity and credit of colonial and foreign government debt in the London Stock Exchange (1880–1910)," Bank of England working papers 555, Bank of England.

    More about this item


    Financial markets; International topics;

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • 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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