The Price and Quantity of Interest Rate Risk
Studies of the dynamics of bond risk premia that do not account for the corresponding dynamics of bond risk are hard to interpret. We propose a new approach to modeling bond risk and risk premia. For each of the US and China, we reduce the government bond market to its first two principal-component bond-factor portfolios. For each bond-factor portfolio, we estimate the joint dynamics of its volatility and Sharpe ratio as functions of yield curve variables, and of VIX in the US. We have three main findings. (1) There is an important second factor in bond risk premia. (2) Time variation in bond return volatility is as important as time variation in bond Sharpe ratios. (3) Bond risk premia are solely compensation for bond risk, as no-arbitrage theory predicts. Our approach also allows us to document interesting cyclical and secular time-variation in the term structure of bond risk premia in both the US and China.
Many thanks for helpful comments and suggestions from Rob Engle, Matt Richardson, Alexi Savov, Yu Xu, and seminar participants at New York University. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.