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Measuring the Volatility in U.S. Treasury Benchmarks and Debt Instruments

  • Suhejla Hoiti
  • Esfandiar Maasoumi
  • Michael McAleer
  • Daniel Slottje

As U.S. Treasury securities carry the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, they are free of default risk. Thus, their yields are risk-free rates of return, which allows the most recently issued U.S. Treasury securities to be used as a benchmark to price other fixedincome instruments. This paper analyzes the time series properties of interest rates on U.S. Treasury benchmarks and related debt instruments by modelling the conditional mean and conditional volatility for weekly yields on 12 Treasury Bills and other debt instruments for the period 8 January 1982 to 20 August 2004. The conditional correlations between all pairs of debt instruments are also calculated. These estimates are of interest as they enable an assessment of the implications of modelling conditional volatility on forecasting performance. The estimated conditional correlation coefficients indicate whether there is specialization, diversification or independence in the debt instrument shocks. Constant conditional correlation estimates of the standardized shocks indicate that the shocks to the first differences in the debt instrument yields are generally high and always positively correlated. In general, the primary purpose in holding a portfolio of Treasury Bills and other debt instruments should be to specialize on instruments that provide the largest returns. Tests for Stochastic Dominance are consistent with these findings, but find somewhat surprising rankings between debt instruments with implications for portfolio composition. 30 year treasuries, Aaa bonds and mortgages tend to dominate other instruments, at least to the second order.

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Paper provided by Universitat de les Illes Balears, Departament d'Economía Aplicada in its series DEA Working Papers with number 14.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ubi:deawps:14
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