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The “Forward Premium Puzzle” and the Sovereign Default Risk

  • Virginie Coudert
  • Valérie Mignon

Carry-trade strategies which consist of buying forward high-yield currencies tend to generate positive excess returns during long periods of time. Here, we aim at explaining this puzzle by the default risk, which is frequently taken on by investing in high-yield currencies. We empirically test for this hypothesis on a sample of 18 emerging currencies over the period from June 2005 to September 2010, the default risk being proxied by the sovereign credit default swap spread. Relying on smooth transition regression models, we show that default risk fuels the carry-trade gains during periods of upbeat financial markets, and worsens the losses in bear markets. We then introduce the default risk into the “Fama regression” linking the exchange-rate depreciation to the interest-rate differential. The “forward bias”, usually evidenced by a coefficient smaller than unity in this regression, is somewhat alleviated, as the default risk partially explains the excess return.

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Paper provided by CEPII research center in its series Working Papers with number 2011-17.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2011-17
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  1. Virginie Coudert & Cécile Couharde & Valérie Mignon, 2010. "Exchange Rate Flexibility Across Financial Crises," Working Papers 2010-08, CEPII research center.
  2. Adrien Verdelhan, 2005. "A Habit-Based Explanation of the Exchange Rate Risk Premium," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-032, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  3. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Isaac Kleshchelski & Sergio Rebelo, 2011. "Do Peso Problems Explain the Returns to the Carry Trade?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(3), pages 853-891.
  4. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Stefan Nagel & Lasse H. Pedersen, 2009. "Carry Trades and Currency Crashes," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 313-347 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Angelo Ranaldo & Paul Söderlind, 2007. "Safe Haven Currencies," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2007 2007-22, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  6. Charles Engel, 1995. "The Forward Discount Anomaly and the Risk Premium: A Survey of Recent Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Eitrheim, Øyvind & Teräsvirta, Timo, 1995. "Testing the Adequacy of Smooth Transition Autoregressive Models," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 56, Stockholm School of Economics.
  8. Huisman, Ronald & Koedijk, Kees & Kool, Clemens & Nissen, Francois, 1998. "Extreme support for uncovered interest parity," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 211-228, February.
  9. Hanno Lustig & Adrien Verdelhan, 2004. "The Cross-Section of Foreign Currency Risk Premia and US Consumption Growth Risk," 2004 Meeting Papers 136c, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Coudert, Virginie & Gex, Mathieu, 2008. "Does risk aversion drive financial crises? Testing the predictive power of empirical indicators," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 167-184, March.
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521068710 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Clarida, Richard & Davis, Josh & Pedersen, Niels, 2009. "Currency carry trade regimes: Beyond the Fama regression," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1375-1389, December.
  13. Terasvirta, T & Anderson, H M, 1992. "Characterizing Nonlinearities in Business Cycles Using Smooth Transition Autoregressive Models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(S), pages S119-36, Suppl. De.
  14. Marion Kohler, 2010. "Exchange rates during financial crises," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, March.
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