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

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Joseph B. Doyle

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo J. Caballero & Joseph B. Doyle, 2012. "Carry Trade and Systemic Risk: Why are FX Options so Cheap?," NBER Working Papers 18644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18644
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Farhi, Emmanuel & Fraiberger, Samuel P. & Gabaix, Xavier & Rancière, Romain & Verdelhan, Adrien, 2009. "Crash Risk in Currency Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 7322, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. 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.
    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 & Isaac Kleshchelski & Sergio Rebelo, 2011. "Do Peso Problems Explain the Returns to the Carry Trade?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(3), pages 853-891.
    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. Shanken, Jay, 1992. "On the Estimation of Beta-Pricing Models," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(1), pages 1-33.
    7. 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.
    8. 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, February.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Fama, Eugene F., 1984. "Forward and spot exchange rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-338, November.
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    1. repec:now:jnlcfr:104.00000051 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Lettau, Martin & Maggiori, Matteo & Weber, Michael, 2014. "Conditional risk premia in currency markets and other asset classes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 197-225.
    3. Jurek, Jakub W., 2014. "Crash-neutral currency carry trades," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(3), pages 325-347.
    4. Daniel, Kent & Hodrick, Robert J. & Lu, Zhongjin, 2017. "The Carry Trade: Risks and Drawdowns," Critical Finance Review, now publishers, vol. 6(2), pages 211-262, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets

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