The Price of Interest Rate Variance Risk and Optimal Investments in Interest Rate Derivatives
Anders B. Trolle
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; Swiss Finance Institute
September 1, 2009
EFA 2009 Bergen Meetings Paper
Recent research on unspanned stochastic variance raises the possibility that interest rate derivatives constitute an important component of optimal fixed income portfolios. In this paper, I estimate a flexible dynamic term structure model that allows for unspanned stochastic variance on an extensive data set of swaps and swaptions. I find that variance risk is predominantly unspanned by bonds, and that the price of risk on the unspanned variance factor is significantly larger in absolute value than the prices of risk on the term structure factors. Consequently, Sharpe ratios on variance sensitive derivatives are about three times larger than Sharpe ratios on bonds or short-term bond futures. These findings are corroborated by an analysis of the Treasury futures market, where the variance risk premium is estimated with a model independent approach. I then solve the dynamic portfolio choice problem for a long-term fixed income investor with and without access to interest rate derivatives and find substantial utility gains from participating in the derivatives market.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: Portfolio choice, derivatives, stochastic variance, swaps, Treasury futures
JEL Classification: E43, G11, G13working papers series
Date posted: February 14, 2009 ; Last revised: January 19, 2011
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