Thursday, February 22, 2007

Asset Class Reader: Nominal Bonds

Explaining the Rate Spread on Corporate Bonds


The purpose of this article is to explain the spread between rates on corporate and government bonds. We show that expected default accounts for a surprisingly small fraction of the premium in corporate rates over treasuries. While state taxes explain a substantial portion of the difference, the remaining portion of the spread is closely related to the factors that we commonly accept as explaining risk premiums for common stocks. Both our time series and cross-sectional tests support the existence of a risk premium on corporate bonds

Li, Lingfeng, "Macroeconomic Factors and the Correlation of Stock and Bond Returns" (November 2002). Yale ICF Working Paper No. 02-46; AFA 2004 San Diego Meetings.

This paper examines the correlation between stock and bond returns. It first documents that the major trends in stock-bond correlation for G7 countries follow a similar reverting pattern in the past forty years. Next, an asset pricing model is employed to show that the correlation of stock and bond returns can be explained by their common exposure to macroeconomic factors. The link between the stock-bond correlation and macroeconomic factors is examined using three successively more realistic formulations of asset return dynamics. Empirical results indicate that the major trends in stock-bond correlation are determined primarily by uncertainty about expected inflation. Unexpected inflation and the real interest rate are significant to a lesser degree. Forecasting this stock-bond correlation using macroeconomic factors also helps improve investors' asset allocation decisions. One implication of this link between trends in stock-bond correlation and inflation risk is the Murphy's Law of Diversification: Diversification opportunities are least available when they are most needed.

Benefits of International Bond Diversification

Hunter, Delroy M. and Simon, David P., "Benefits of International Bond Diversification" . Journal of Fixed Income, Vol. 13, pp. 57-72, March 2004

This paper assesses the incremental diversification benefits to US investors from investing in international government bonds. In light of suggestions that these benefits have fallen sharply in the recent decade due to more closely synchronized business cycles, we use mean-variance spanning tests to show that currency-hedged bonds provide significant diversification benefits over the period from January 1992 to September 2002. Using a bivariate GARCH framework, we find that US bond returns have become increasingly correlated with UK and German bond returns, but have experienced declining correlations with Japanese bonds. The changing correlations are consistent with variation in the synchronization of business cycles. However, the evidence suggests that correlations have not become high enough to threaten the gains from diversification and that these gains on a currency-hedged basis are not diminished during periods of weakness or increased volatility in US or foreign bond markets. Conditional Sharpe ratios also demonstrate that risk-reward tradeoffs for each bond market vary in a predictable manner, which further underscores the potential benefits of international bond investing. Finally, we demonstrate how conditional yield betas and conditional yield beta adjusted foreign bond durations can be constructed from our model estimates.

A Conditional Assessment of the Relationships Between the Major World Bond Markets

Hunter, Delroy M. and Simon, David P., "A Conditional Assessment of the Relationships Between the Major World Bond Markets" (June 24, 2003)

This paper uses a bivariate GARCH framework to examine the lead-lag relations and the conditional correlations between 10-year US government bond returns and their counterparts from the UK, Germany, and Japan. We find that while mean and volatility spillovers exist between the major international bond markets, they are much weaker than those between equity markets. The results also indicate that the correlations between the US and other major bond market returns are time varying and are driven by changing macroeconomic and market conditions. However, in contrast to the finding that the benefits of international diversification in equity markets evaporate during high-stress periods, we find that the benefits of diversification across major government bond markets do not decrease during periods of extremely high bond market volatility or following extremely negative US and foreign bond returns.

Securitization and Collateralized Debt Obligations

Fabozzi, Frank J. and Kothari, Vinod, Yale ICF Working Paper No. 07-07
Lucas, Douglas J., Goodman, Laurie and Fabozzi, Frank J., . Yale ICF Working Paper No. 07-06

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