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Interpreting Tests of Forward Discount Bias Using Survey Data on Exchange Rate Expectations

  • Kenneth A. Froot
  • Jeffrey A. Frankel

Survey data on exchange rate expectations are used to divide the forward discount into expected depreciation and a risk premium. Our starting point is the common test oh whether the forward discount is an unbiased predictor of future changes in the spot rate. We use the surveys to decompose the bias into a protion attributable to the risk premium and a portion attributable to systematic prediction errors. The survey data suggest that our findings of both unconditional and conditional bias are overwhelmingly due to systematic expectational errors. Regressions of future changes in the spot rate against the forward discount do not yield insights into the sign, size or variability of the risk premium as is usually thought.We test directly the hypothesis of perfect substitutability, and find support for it on that changes in the forward discount reflect, one for one , changes in expected depreciation. The "random-walk" view that expected depreciation is zero is thus rejected; expected depreciation is even significantly more variable than the risk premium. In fact, investors would do better if they always reduced fractionally the magnitude of expected depreciation. This is the same result that Bilson and many others have found with forward market data, but now it cannot be attributed to a risk premium.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1963.

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Date of creation: Jun 1986
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Publication status: published as Froot and Frankel, "Forward Discount Bias: Is it an Exchange Risk Premium?" from Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. CIV, Issue 1, pp. 139-161,(February 1989).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1963
Note: ITI IFM
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  1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  2. Hansen, Lars Peter & Hodrick, Robert J, 1980. "Forward Exchange Rates as Optimal Predictors of Future Spot Rates: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 829-53, October.
  3. Longworth, David, 1981. "Testing the Efficiency of the Canadian-U.S. Exchange Market under the Assumption of no Risk Premium," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(1), pages 43-49, March.
  4. Ralph Tryon, 1979. "Testing for rational expectations in foreign exchange markets," International Finance Discussion Papers 139, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. McCallum, Bennett T., 1985. "Bank deregulation, accounting systems of exchange, and the unit of account: A critical review," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 13-45, January.
  6. Hodrick, Robert J. & Srivastava, Sanjay, 1984. "An investigation of risk and return in forward foreign exchange," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 5-29, April.
  7. John F. O. Bilson, 1980. "The "Speculative Efficiency" Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 0474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Gregory, Allan W. & McCurdy, Thomas H., 1984. "Testing the unbiasedness hypothesis in the forward foreign exchange market: A specification analysis," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 357-368, December.
  9. Robert E. Cumby & Maurice Obstfeld, 1980. "Exchange-Rate Expectations and Nominal Interest Differentials: A Test ofthe Fisher Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 0537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Fama, Eugene F., 1984. "Forward and spot exchange rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-338, November.
  11. Mussa, Michael, 1979. "Empirical regularities in the behavior of exchange rates and theories of the foreign exchange market," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 9-57, January.
  12. Krasker, William S., 1980. "The `peso problem' in testing the efficiency of forward exchange markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 269-276, April.
  13. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Kenneth A. Froot, 1986. "The Dollar as an Irrational Speculative Bubble: A Tale of Fundamentalisists," NBER Working Papers 1854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Huang, Roger D., 1984. "Some alternative tests of forward exchange rates as predictors of future spot rates," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 153-167, August.
  15. Boothe, Paul & Longworth, David, 1986. "Foreign exchange market efficiency tests: Implications of recent empirical findings," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 135-152, June.
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