Bond Market “Conundrum”: New Factors Explaining Long-term Interest Rates?
Interest rates behaved highly atypically from 2004 to 2006. While the US central bank raised its policy rate at every meeting, long-term interest rates remained so remarkably stable that Fed Chairman A. Greenspan described their behaviour as a “conundrum.” Comparing long term rates to their theoretical level based on fundamental valuation model, we show that the anomaly was in average 40 bp. Various explanations have been put forward: investors’ changed attitude toward risk, and the rise in US Treasury purchases by different categories of buyers. We show that, if these variables could theoretically be responsible for bond risk premium decline, by incorporating them in a fundamental model of bond rates, they can explain less than half of the anomaly. Their recent changing influence could nevertheless justify their use for prospective analysis of bond rates.
interest rates, central banks, flows of funds, financial markets.
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