Common Risk Factors in Currency Markets

Common Risk Factors in Currency Markets

By
Hanno Lustig, Nikolai Roussanov, Adrien Verdelhan
The Review of Financial Studies. August
30, 2011, Vol. 24, Issue 11, Pages 3731-3777

We identify a “slope” factor in exchange rates. High interest rate currencies load more on this slope factor than low interest rate currencies. This factor accounts for most of the cross-sectional variation in average excess returns between high and low interest rate currencies. A standard, no-arbitrage model of interest rates with two factors—a country-specific factor and a global factor—can replicate these findings, provided there is sufficient heterogeneity in exposure to global or common innovations. We show that our slope factor identifies these common shocks, and we provide empirical evidence that it is related to changes in global equity market volatility. By investing in high interest rate currencies and borrowing in low interest rate currencies, U.S. investors load up on global risk.