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Recovering market expectations of FOMC rate changes with options on federal funds futures

  • John B. Carlson
  • Ben R. Craig
  • William R. Melick

This paper demonstrates how options on federal funds futures, which began trading in March 2003, can be used to recover the implied probability density function (PDF) for future Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) interest rate outcomes. The discrete nature of the choices made by the FOMC allows for a very straightforward recovery of the implied PDF using ordinary least squares (OLS) estimation. This simple recovery method stands in contrast to the relatively complicated PDF recovery techniques developed for options written on assets such as equities, foreign exchange, or commodity futures where the underlying prices are most appropriately modeled as being drawn from continuous distributions. The OLS estimation is used to recover PDFs for single FOMC meetings as well as PDFs for joint estimation of multiple FOMC meetings, and allows for the imposition of restrictions on the recovered probabilities, both within and across FOMC meetings. Finally, recovered probabilities are used to assess the impact of data releases and Fed communication on the perceived likelihood of actual policy outcomes.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 0507.

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Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0507
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  1. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1995. "Federal Reserve interest rate targeting, rational expectations, and the term structure," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 95-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Monika Piazzesi & Eric T. Swanson, 2006. "Futures prices as risk-adjusted forecasts of monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2006-23, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Robertson, John C & Tallman, Ellis W, 2001. "Improving Federal-Funds Rate Forecasts in VAR Models Used for Policy Analysis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(3), pages 324-30, July.
  4. Breeden, Douglas T & Litzenberger, Robert H, 1978. "Prices of State-contingent Claims Implicit in Option Prices," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 621-51, October.
  5. Melick, William R. & Thomas, Charles P., 1997. "Recovering an Asset's Implied PDF from Option Prices: An Application to Crude Oil during the Gulf Crisis," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(01), pages 91-115, March.
  6. Eric T. Swanson, 2004. "Federal Reserve transparency and financial market forecasts of short-term interest rates," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-06, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Stephen Bond & Frank Windmeijer, 2005. "Reliable Inference For Gmm Estimators? Finite Sample Properties Of Alternative Test Procedures In Linear Panel Data Models," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 1-37.
  8. Ling Hu & Peter C.B. Phillips, 2002. "Nonstationary Discrete Choice," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1364, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Robert R. Bliss & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2004. "Option-Implied Risk Aversion Estimates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(1), pages 407-446, 02.
  10. Ed Nosal, 2001. "How well does the federal funds futures rate predict the future federal funds rate?," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Oct.
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