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Benchmark Interest Rates When the Government is Risky

Author

Listed:
  • Patrick Augustin
  • Mikhail Chernov
  • Lukas Schmid
  • Dongho Song

Abstract

Since the Global Financial Crisis, rates on interest rate swaps have fallen below maturity matched U.S. Treasury rates across different maturities. Swap rates represent future uncollateralized borrowing between banks. Treasuries should be expensive and produce yields that are lower than those of maturity matched swap rates, as they are deemed to have superior liquidity and to be safe, so this is a surprising development. We show, by no-arbitrage, that the U.S. sovereign default risk explains the negative swap spreads over Treasuries. This view is supported by a quantitative equilibrium model that jointly accounts for macroeconomic fundamentals and the term structures of interest and U.S. credit default swap rates. We account for interbank credit risk, liquidity effects, and cost of collateralization in the model. Thus, the sovereign risk explanation complements others based on frictions such as balance sheet constraints, convenience yield, and hedging demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Augustin & Mikhail Chernov & Lukas Schmid & Dongho Song, 2019. "Benchmark Interest Rates When the Government is Risky," NBER Working Papers 26429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26429
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General

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