Bond Risk Premia
John H. Cochrane
Hoover Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Chicago - Booth School of Business
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
NBER Working Paper No. w9178
This paper studies time variation in expected excess bond returns. We run regressions of annual excess returns on forward rates. We find that a single factor predicts 1-year excess returns on 1-5 year maturity bonds with an R2 up to 43%. The single factor is a tent-shaped linear function of forward rates. The return forecasting factor has a clear business cycle correlation: Expected returns are high in bad times, and low in good times, and the return-forecasting factor forecasts long-run output growth. The return-forecasting factor also forecasts stock returns, suggesting a common time-varying premium for real interest rate risk. The return forecasting factor is poorly related to level, slope, and curvature movements in bond yields. Therefore, it represents a source of yield curve movement not captured by most term structure models. Though the return-forecasting factor accounts for more than 99% of the time-variation in expected excess bond returns, we find additional, very small factors that forecast equally small differences between long term bond returns, and hence statistically reject a one-factor model for expected returns.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Date posted: September 15, 2002