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Extracting Information from Asset Prices: The Methodology of EMU Calculators

  • Favero, Carlo A.
  • Giavazzi, Francesco
  • Iacone, Fabrizio
  • Tabellini, Guido

This paper develops a particular technique for extracting market expectations from asset prices. We use the term structure of interest rates to estimate the probability the market attaches to a country, Italy, joining the European Monetary Union at a given date. The extraction of such a probability is based on the presumption that the term structure contains valuable information regarding the markets’ assessment of a country’s chances of joining EMU. The case of Italy is interesting because in the survey regularly conducted by Reuters the probability that Italy joins EMU in 1999 fluctuated, in the first months of 1997, between 0.07 and 0.15 while during the same period the measures computed by financial houses – which are based on the term structure of interest rates – ranged between 0.5 and 0.8. The paper proposes a new method for computing these probabilities and shows that the discrepancies between survey and market-based measures are not the result of market inefficiencies, but of incorrect use of the term structure to compute probabilities. The technique proposed in the paper can also be used to distinguish between convergence of probabilities and convergence of fundamentals, that is to find out whether an observed reduction in interest rate spreads signals a higher probability of joining EMU at a given time, or simply reflects improved fundamentals. It could also be applied, more generally, to extract information on imminent changes in an exchange rate regime from asset prices.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1676.

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Date of creation: Jul 1997
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1676
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  1. Gerlach, Stefan & Smets, Frank, 1995. "The Term Structure of Euro-Rates: Some Evidence in Support of the Expectations Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1258, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1996. "Sticky price and limited participation models of money: a comparison," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell & Kermit L. Schoenholtz, 1983. "Forward Rates and Future Policy: Interpreting the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 667, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  8. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles, 1996. "The Effects of Monetary Policy Shocks: Evidence from the Flow of Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 16-34, February.
  9. Robert P. Flood & Peter M. Garber, 1982. "A model of stochastic process switching," International Finance Discussion Papers 201, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  16. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521389051 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Sims, Christopher A & Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 1990. "Inference in Linear Time Series Models with Some Unit Roots," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 113-44, January.
  18. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1992. "Liquidity effects and the monetary transmission mechanism," Staff Report 150, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  19. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  20. Angeloni, I. & Violi, R., 1997. "Long-Term Interest Rate Convergence in Europe and the Probability of EMU," Papers 322, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  21. Bernanke, Ben S. & Mihov, Ilian, 1997. "What does the Bundesbank target?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1025-1053, June.
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  24. Eric M. Leeper & Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1996. "What Does Monetary Policy Do?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 1-78.
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