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The Natural Rate Puzzle: Global Macro Trends and the Market-Implied r

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  • Josh Davis
  • Cristian Fuenzalida
  • Alan M. Taylor

Abstract

Benchmark finance models deliver estimates of bond risk premia based on components of Treasury bond yields. Benchmark macroeconomic models deliver estimates of the natural rate of interest based on growth, inflation, and other macro factors. But estimates of the natural rate implied by the former are wildly inconsistent with those of the latter; and estimates of risk premia implied by the latter are wildly inconsistent with those of the former. This is the natural rate puzzle, and we show that it applies not only in the United States but also across several advanced economies. A unified model should not fail such consistency tests. We estimate a unified macro-finance model with long-run trend factors which delivers paths for a market-implied natural rate r* consistent with inflation expectations π* and bond risk premia. These paths are plausible and our factors improve the explanatory power of yield and return regressions. Trading strategies based on signals incorporating both r* and π* trends outperform both yield- only strategies like level and slope and strategies which only add trend inflation. The estimates from our unified model satisfy consistency and deliver a resolution to the puzzle. They show that most of the variation in yields has come from shifts in r* and π*, not from bond risk premia. Our market-implied natural rate differs from consensus estimates, and is typically lower, intensifying concerns about secular stagnation and proximity to the effective lower-bound on monetary policy in advanced economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Josh Davis & Cristian Fuenzalida & Alan M. Taylor, 2019. "The Natural Rate Puzzle: Global Macro Trends and the Market-Implied r," NBER Working Papers 26560, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26560
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Adrian, Tobias & Crump, Richard K. & Moench, Emanuel, 2015. "Regression-based estimation of dynamic asset pricing models," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 211-244.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • 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
    • E47 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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