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Carry Trade and Systemic Risk: Why are FX Options so Cheap?

  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Joseph B. Doyle

In this paper we document first that, in contrast with their widely perceived excess returns, popular carry trade strategies yield low systemic-risk-adjusted returns. In particular, we show that carry trade returns are highly correlated with the return of a VIX rolldown strategy --i.e., the strategy of shorting VIX futures and rolling down its term structure-- and that the latter strategy performs at least as well as beta-adjusted carry trades, for individual currencies and diversified portfolios. In contrast, hedging the carry with exchange rate options produces large returns that are not a compensation for systemic risk. We show that this result stems from the fact that the corresponding portfolio of exchange rate options provides a cheap form of systemic insurance.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18644.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18644
Note: ME
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  1. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2011. "Carry Trade and Momentum in Currency Markets," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 511-535, December.
  2. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Kleshchelski, Isaac & Rebelo, Sérgio, 2008. "Do Peso Problems Explain the Returns to the Carry Trade?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6873, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Engel, Charles, 1996. "The forward discount anomaly and the risk premium: A survey of recent evidence," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 123-192, June.
  4. 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.
  5. Hanno Lustig & Adrien Verdelhan, 2007. "The Cross Section of Foreign Currency Risk Premia and Consumption Growth Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 89-117, March.
  6. Emmanuel Farhi & Samuel Paul Fraiberger & Xavier Gabaix & Romain Ranciere & Adrien Verdelhan, 2009. "Crash Risk in Currency Markets," NBER Working Papers 15062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. François Gourio & Michael Siemer & Adrien Verdelhan, 2011. "International Risk Cycles," NBER Working Papers 17277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Shanken, Jay, 1992. "On the Estimation of Beta-Pricing Models," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(1), pages 1-33.
  9. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
  10. Fama, Eugene F., 1984. "Forward and spot exchange rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-338, November.
  11. David K. Backus, 2001. "Affine Term Structure Models and the Forward Premium Anomaly," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 279-304, 02.
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