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The Impossibility of Stationary Yield Spreads and I(1) Yields under the Expectations Theory of the Term Structure

It is a widely encountered misconception that the vector of spreads between longer-term interest rates and the short rate is stationary under the Expectations Theory (ET). By considering a complete term structure of maturities it is shown that the ET determines the conditional mean of the VAR process followed by the yield curve. We prove that under this process, the zero-coupon yield curve is I(2), immediately casting doubt on the empirical usefulness of the ET. Furthermore, the yield spreads are shown to be a non-stationary, cointegrated I(1) process. This result invalidates many existing approaches to evaluating and formally testing the ET. Finally, time series features of yield curve data simulated under the ET are compared with those of actual US Treasury zero-coupon yield curves.

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Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Economics Papers with number 2006-W05.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 08 Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nuf:econwp:0605
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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  1. Campbell, John & Shiller, Robert, 1987. "Cointegration and Tests of Present Value Models," Scholarly Articles 3122490, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Fama, Eugene F & Bliss, Robert R, 1987. "The Information in Long-Maturity Forward Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 680-92, September.
  3. Shea, Gary S, 1992. "Benchmarking the Expectations Hypothesis of the Interest-Rate Term Structure: An Analysis of Cointegration Vectors," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 10(3), pages 347-66, July.
  4. Francis X. Diebold & Canlin Li, 2003. "Forecasting the Term Structure of Government Bond Yields," NBER Working Papers 10048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Campbell, John Y & Shiller, Robert J, 1991. "Yield Spreads and Interest Rate Movements: A Bird's Eye View," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(3), pages 495-514, May.
  6. John H. Cochrane & Monika Piazzesi, 2002. "Bond Risk Premia," NBER Working Papers 9178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hall, Anthony D & Anderson, Heather M & Granger, Clive W J, 1992. "A Cointegration Analysis of Treasury Bill Yields," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 116-26, February.
  8. Andrea Carriero & Carlo Favero & Iryna Kaminska, 2004. "Financial Factors, Macroeconomic Information and the Expectations Theory of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Working Papers 253, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  9. Pagan, A.R. & Hall, A.D. & Martin, V., 1995. "Modelling the Term Structure," Papers 284, Australian National University - Department of Economics.
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