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Treasury Bill Futures as Hedges Against Inflation Risk

  • Jayendu Patel
  • Richard J. Zeckhauser

An important risk facing agents in a monetary economy arises from inflation uncertainty: in the U.S. for the 1953-84 period, unexpected quarterly inflation had a standard deviation of 2.1%. The costs of such uncertainty are likely to be even higher for multi-year contracts, since we estimate that a 1% unexpected inflation this year implies an upward revision of 0.43% for expected inflation for the forthcoming year and 1% for the years beyond that. The prospect of hedging inflation risk exposure using conventional financial instruments is bleak, as has been widely documented. We develop a theoretical case for Treasury bill futures as a inflation risk hedge by jointly assuming that (1) the Fisher Hypothesis applies to Treasury bill yields, (2) the Unbiased Expectations Hypothesis (UEH) applies to futures prices, and (3) inflation is an autoregressive process. Our empirical analysis shows that Treasury bill futures can reduce single-period inflation risk by about 30-40%. The expected cost of using such futures is close to zero, since we find that the Unbiased Expectations Hypothesis for Treasury bill futures cannot be rejected. Our results provide new indirect support for the Fisher Hypothesis.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2322.

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Date of creation: Jul 1987
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Publication status: published as "Treasury Bill Futures as Unbiased Predictors: New Evidence and Relation to Unexpected Inflation," Review of Futures Markets, vol 8, no 3, 1989, pp 35 2-368
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2322
Note: ME
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  1. Michael L. Wachter & Oliver E. Williamson, 1978. "Obligational Markets and the Mechanics of Inflation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 549-571, Autumn.
  2. Elton, Edwin J & Gruber, Martin J & Rentzler, Joel, 1984. "Intra-Day Tests of the Efficiency of the Treasury Bill Futures Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(1), pages 129-37, February.
  3. Nelson, Charles R & Schwert, G William, 1977. "Short-Term Interest Rates as Predictors of Inflation: On Testing the Hypothesis That the Real Rate of Interest is Constant," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 478-86, June.
  4. Vining, Daniel R, Jr & Elwertowski, Thomas C, 1976. "The Relationship between Relative Prices and the General Price Level," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 699-708, September.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  6. Bradley, Michael D & Jansen, Dennis W, 1986. "Federal Reserve Operating Procedure in the Eighties: A Dynamic Analysis," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(3), pages 323-35, August.
  7. Barro, Robert J., 1986. "Futures Markets and the Fluctuations in Inflation, Monetary Growth, and Asset Returns," Scholarly Articles 3475682, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Fama, Eugene F. & MacBeth, James D., 1974. "Tests of the multiperiod two-parameter model," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 43-66, May.
  9. Fama, Eugene F. & Schwert, G. William, 1977. "Asset returns and inflation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 115-146, November.
  10. Fama, Eugene F, 1975. "Short-Term Interest Rates as Predictors of Inflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 269-82, June.
  11. Fama, Eugene F. & Gibbons, Michael R., 1982. "Inflation, real returns and capital investment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 297-323.
  12. Card, David, 1986. "An Empirical Model of Wage Indexation Provisions in Union Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S144-75, June.
  13. Jarrow, Robert A. & Oldfield, George S., 1981. "Forward contracts and futures contracts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 373-382, December.
  14. Bodie, Zvi, 1976. "Common Stocks as a Hedge against Inflation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(2), pages 459-70, May.
  15. Ederington, Louis H, 1979. "The Hedging Performance of the New Futures Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 34(1), pages 157-70, March.
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