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New Hope for the Expectations Hypothesis of the Term Structure of Interest Rates

  • Kenneth A. Froot

Survey data on interest rate expectations are used to separate the forward interest rate into an expected future rate and a term premium. These components are used to test separately two competing alternative hypotheses in tests of the term structure: that the expectations hypothesis does not hold, and that expected future long rates over- or underreact. to changes in short rates. While the spread consistently fails to predict future interest rate changes, we find that the nature of this failure is different, for short versus long maturities. For short maturities, expected future rates are rational forecasts. The poor predictions of the spread can therefore be attributed to variation in term premia. For longer-term bonds, however, we are unable to reject the expectations theory, in that a steeper yield curve reflects a one-for-one increase in expected future long rates. Here the perverse predictions of the spread reflect investors' failure to raise sufficiently their expectations of future long rates when the short rate rises. We confirm earlier findings that bond rates underreact to short rate changes, but now this result cannot be attributed to the term premium.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2363.

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Date of creation: Aug 1987
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Publication status: published as Journal of Finance, Vol. XLIV, No. 2, pp. 283-305, (June 1989).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2363
Note: ME ITI IFM
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  1. N. Gregory Mankiw & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Do Long-Term Interest Rates Overreact to Short-Term Interest Rates?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 15(1), pages 223-248.
  2. N. Gregory Mankiw & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1985. "The Changing Behavior of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 1669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John Y. Campbell, 1986. "A Defense of Traditional Hypotheses About the Term Structure of InterestRates," NBER Working Papers 1508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1987. "A Simple, Positive Semi-definite, Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 703-08, May.
  5. French, Kenneth R, 1986. "Detecting Spot Price Forecasts in Futures Prices," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages S39-54, April.
  6. Richard Startz, . "Do Forecast Errors or Term Premia Really Make the Difference Between Long and Short Rates?," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 08-81, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Shiller, Robert J, 1979. "The Volatility of Long-Term Interest Rates and Expectations Models of the Term Structure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1190-1219, December.
  8. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell & Kermit L. Schoenholtz, 1983. "Forward Rates and Future Policy: Interpreting the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 667, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Friedman, Benjamin M, 1979. "Interest Rate Expectations versus Forward Rates: Evidence from an Expectations Survey," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 34(4), pages 965-73, September.
  10. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1986. "The Term Structure of Interest Rates Revisited," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 17(1), pages 61-110.
  11. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  12. Rubinstein, Mark, 1974. "An aggregation theorem for securities markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 225-244, September.
  13. Jones, David S. & Vance Roley, V., 1983. "Rational expectations and the expectations model of the term structure : A test using weekly data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 453-465, September.
  14. Modigliani, Franco & Shiller, Robert J, 1973. "Inflation, Rational Expectations and the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(157), pages 12-43, February.
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