Journal of Financial Economics2013-09-05 2:57 AM

Why Gaussian Macro-Finance Term Structure Models are (Nearly) Unconstrained Factor-VARs

Abstract This paper explores the implications of filtering and no-arbitrage for the maximum likelihood estimates of the entire conditional distribution of the risk factors and bond yields in Gaussian macro-finance term structure model (MTSM) when all yields are priced imperfectly. For typical yield curves and macro-variables studied in this literature, the estimated joint distribution within a canonical MTSM is nearly identical to the estimate from an economic-model-free factor vector-autoregression (factor-VAR), even when measurement errors are large. It follows that a canonical MTSM offers no new insights into economic questions regarding the historical distribution of the macro risk factors and yields, over and above what is learned from a factor-VAR. These results are rotation-invariant and, therefore, apply to many of the specifications in the literature.

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Journal of Financial Economics

The Journal of Financial Economics or JFE is a peer-reviewed academic journal covering theoretical and empirical topics in financial economics. Together with the Journal of Finance and the Review of Financial Studies, it is considered to be among the top three finance journals.

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