Bond Return Predictability: Economic Value and Links to the Macroeconomy
68 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2014 Last revised: 5 Jun 2017
Date Written: April 10, 2017
Studies of bond return predictability find a puzzling disparity between strong statistical evidence of return predictability and the failure to convert return forecasts into economic gains. We show that resolving this puzzle requires accounting for important features of bond return models such as time varying parameters, volatility dynamics, and unspanned macro factors. A three-factor model comprising the Fama and Bliss (1987) forward spread, the Cochrane and Piazzesi (2005) combination of forward rates and the Ludvigson and Ng (2009) macro factor generates notable gains in out-of-sample forecast accuracy compared with a model based on the expectations hypothesis. Such gains in predictive accuracy translate into higher risk-adjusted portfolio returns after accounting for estimation error and model uncertainty, as evidenced by the performance of forecast combinations. Consistent with models featuring unspanned macro factors, our forecasts of future bond excess returns are strongly negatively correlated with survey forecasts of short rates.
Keywords: bond returns, yield curve, macro factors, stochastic volatility, time-varying parameters, unspanned macro risk factors
JEL Classification: G11, G12, G17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation