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Reverse Engineering the Yield Curve

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  • David K. Backus
  • Stanley E. Zin

Abstract

Prices of riskfree bonds in any arbitrage-free environment are governed by a pricing kernel: given a kernel, we can compute prices of bonds of any maturity we like. We use observed prices of multi-period bonds to estimate, in a log-linear theoretical setting, the pricing kernel that gave rise to them. The high-order dynamics of our estimated kernel help to explain why first-order, one-factor models of the term structure have had difficulty reconciling the shape of the yield curve with the persistence of the short rate. We use the estimated kernel to provide a new perspective on Hansen-Jagannathan bounds, the price of risk, and the pricing of bond options and futures.

Suggested Citation

  • David K. Backus & Stanley E. Zin, 1994. "Reverse Engineering the Yield Curve," NBER Working Papers 4676, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4676
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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