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The Returns to Currency Speculation

  • Craig Burnside

    ()

    (Department of Economics Duke University)

  • Martin Eichenbaum
  • Isaac Kleshchelski
  • Sergio Rebelo

Currencies that are at a forward premium tend to depreciate. This `forward premium-depreciation anomaly' represents an egregious deviation from uncovered interest parity. We document the returns to currency speculation strategies that exploit this anomaly. The first strategy, known as the carry trade, is widely used by practitioners. This strategy involves selling currencies forward that are at a forward premium and buying those that are at a forward discount. The second strategy relies on a particular regression to forecast the payoff to selling currencies forward. We show that these strategies yield high Sharpe ratios which are not a compensation for risk. However, these Sharpe ratios do not represent unexploited profit opportunities. In the presence of microstructure frictions, spot and forward exchange rates move against traders as they increase their positions. The resulting `price pressure' drives a wedge between average and marginal Sharpe ratios. We argue that marginal Sharpe ratios are zero even though average Sharpe ratios are positive. We display a simple microstructure model that simultaneously rationalizes `price pressure' and the forward premium-depreciation puzzle. The central feature of this model is that market makers face an adverse selection problem that is less severe when, based on public information, the currency is expected to appreciate

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2006 Meeting Papers with number 864.

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Date of creation: 03 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:864
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  27. Craig Burnside & Martin S. Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2007. "Understanding the Forward Premium Puzzle: A Microstructure Approach," NBER Working Papers 13278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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