NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Carry Trades and Risk

Craig Burnside

NBER Working Paper No. 17278
Issued in August 2011
NBER Program(s):   AP   EFG   IFM

Carry trades, in which an investor borrows a low interest rate currency and lends a high interest rate currency, have been profitable historically. The risk exposure of carry traders might explain their high returns, but conventional models of risk do not work because traditional risk factors, used to price the stock market, do not price currency returns. Less traditional factors that are more successful in explaining currency returns, are, however, unsuccessful in explaining the returns to the stock market. More exotic models of "crisis risk" are another possibility, but I show that any time-variation in the exposure of the carry trade to market risk has been insufficient, in sample, to explain the average returns earned by carry traders. Instead, peso events remain a candidate explanation of the returns to the carry trade.

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This paper was revised on December 5, 2011

Acknowledgments

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