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Extracting Information from Asset Prices: the Methodology of EMU Calculators

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

This paper analyses how to extract market expectations from asset prices, with a particular example: using the term structure of interest rates to estimate the probability the market attaches to the event that a country, Italy, joins the European Monetary Union at a given date. The extraction of such a probability from the term structure is based on the presumption that the term structure contains valuable information regarding the markets' assessment of a country's chances to join the EMU. The case of Italy is interesting because in the survey regularly conducted by Reuters the probability of joining EMU in 1999 fluctuated between 0.07 and 0.15, while, during the same period, the measures of computed by financial houses -- also based on the term structure of interest rates -- have 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 ine fficiencies, but depend on an 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.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 113.

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  17. Ben S. Bernanke & Ilian Mihov, 1995. "Measuring Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 5145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Paul Soderlind & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1997. "New Techniques to Extract Market Expectations from Financial Instruments," NBER Working Papers 5877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Flood, Robert P. & Marion, Nancy P., 1983. "Exchange-rate regimes in transition: Italy 1974," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 279-294, December.
  20. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell & Kermit L. Schoenholtz, 1983. "Forward Rates and Future Policy: Interpreting the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(1), pages 173-224.
  21. King, Mervyn, 1995. "Credibility and Monetary Policy: Theory and Evidence," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 42(1), pages 1-19, February.
  22. Giavazzi,Francesco & Micossi,Stefano & Miller,Marcus (ed.), 1989. "The European Monetary System," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521389051, June.
  23. 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.
  24. Angeloni, I. & Violi, R., 1997. "Long-Term Interest Rate Convergence in Europe and the Probability of EMU," Papers 322, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  25. J. Weidmann, 1996. "The likelihood of European Monetary Union," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 49(199), pages 405-413.
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