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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
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18644
Note: ME
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  1. Fama, Eugene F., 1984. "Forward and spot exchange rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-338, November.
  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. Gourio, François & Siemer, Michael & Verdelhan, Adrien, 2013. "International risk cycles," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 471-484.
  4. 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.
  5. Charles Engel, 1995. "The Forward Discount Anomaly and the Risk Premium: A Survey of Recent Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Richard Clarida & Josh Davis & Niels Pedersen, 2009. "Currency Carry Trade Regimes: Beyond the Fama Regression," NBER Working Papers 15523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Emmanuel Farhi & Samuel Fraiberger & Xavier Gabaix & Romain Ranciere & Adrien Verdelhan, 2015. "Crash Risk in Currency Markets," Working Paper 20948, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  10. 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.
  11. Shanken, Jay, 1992. "On the Estimation of Beta-Pricing Models," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(1), pages 1-33.
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