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Random Walk Expectations and the Forward Discount Puzzle


  • Bacchetta, Philippe
  • van Wincoop, Eric


Two well-known, but seemingly contradictory, features of exchange rates are that they are close to a random walk while at the same time exchange rate changes are predictable by interest rate differentials. In this paper we investigate whether these two features of the data may in fact be related. In particular, we ask whether the predictability of exchange rates by interest differentials naturally results when participants in the FX market adopt random walk expectations. We find that random walk expectations can explain the forward premium puzzle, but only if FX portfolio positions are revised infrequently. In contrast, with frequent portfolio adjustment and random walk expectations, we find that high interest rate currencies depreciate much more than what UIP would predict.

Suggested Citation

  • Bacchetta, Philippe & van Wincoop, Eric, 2007. "Random Walk Expectations and the Forward Discount Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 6122, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6122

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Isaac Kleshchelski & Sergio Rebelo, 2006. "The Returns to Currency Speculation," 2006 Meeting Papers 864, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Philippe Bacchetta & Eric van Wincoop, 2006. "Incomplete information processing: a solution to the forward discount puzzle," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jun.
    3. Fama, Eugene F., 1984. "Forward and spot exchange rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-338, November.
    4. Meese, Richard A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1983. "Empirical exchange rate models of the seventies : Do they fit out of sample?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 3-24, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Jetter & Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, 2013. "Monetary Policy Shifts and the Forward Discount Puzzle," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO CIEF 010729, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT.
    2. Craig Burnside & Bing Han & David Hirshleifer & Tracy Yue Wang, 2011. "Investor Overconfidence and the Forward Premium Puzzle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 523-558.
    3. Anella Munro, 2014. "Exchange rates, expected returns and risk," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series DP2014/01, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    4. Kerstin Bernoth & Juergen von Hagen & Casper de Vries, 2010. "The Forward Premium Puzzle and Latent Factors Day by Day," DNB Working Papers 246, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    5. Lansing, Kevin J. & Ma, Jun, 2017. "Explaining exchange rate anomalies in a model with Taylor-rule fundamentals and consistent expectations," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 62-87.
    6. De Grauwe, Paul & Markiewicz, Agnieszka, 2013. "Learning to forecast the exchange rate: Two competing approaches," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 42-76.
    7. Kerstin Bernoth & Jürgen von Hagen & Casper G. de Vries, 2007. "The Forward Premium Puzzle only emerges gradually," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-033/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    8. Han, Bing & Hirshleifer, David & Wang, Tracy Yue, 2005. "Investor Overconfidence and the Forward Discount Puzzle," Working Paper Series 2005-21, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
    9. Nucera, Federico & Valente, Giorgio, 2013. "Carry trades and the performance of currency hedge funds," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 407-425.
    10. Demosthenes N. Tambakis & Nikola Tarashev, 2012. "Systematic monetary policy and the forward premium puzzle," BIS Working Papers 396, Bank for International Settlements.
    11. Loring, Grace & Lucey, Brian, 2013. "An analysis of forward exchange rate biasedness across developed and developing country currencies: Do observed patterns persist out of sample?," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 14-28.

    More about this item


    excess return; incomplete information; predictability;

    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets

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