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Asset Pricing, Slow-Moving Capital, Monetary Policy, and Inflation

  • Author(s): Fleckenstein, Matthias
  • Advisor(s): Longstaff, Francis A.
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation focuses on a major challenge to neoclassical asset pricing theory - the existence of persistent arbitrage mispricing in financial markets. Many scholars, e.g. Liu and Longstaff (2004) and Shleifer and Vishny (2007), have challenged the neoclassical no-arbitrage paradigm. However, the nature of arbitrage mispricing is not yet fully understood and requires further study.

The first chapter 'The TIPS--Treasury Bond Puzzle', jointly written with Francis A. Longstaff and Hanno Lustig, analyzes the relative pricing between U.S. Treasury Bonds and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). We document that Treasury bonds are consistently overpriced relative to TIPS. The price of a Treasury bond can exceed that of an inflation swapped TIPS issue exactly matching the cash flows of the Treasury bond by more than $20 per $100 notional amount. The relative mispricing of TIPS and Treasury bonds represents one of the largest examples of arbitrage ever documented and poses a major puzzle to classical asset pricing theory. We find direct evidence that the mispricing narrows as additional capital flows into the markets. This provides strong support for the slow-moving-capital explanation of arbitrage persistence.

In the second chapter, I extend the analysis in the first chapter to the G7 government bond markets and document new stylized facts about the dynamics and determinants of arbitrage mispricing in and across financial markets. The new insight for the slow-moving capital theory is that capital available to specific types of arbitrageurs is significantly related to the inflation-linked-nominal bond mispricing (ILB mispricing). Specifically, returns of hedge funds following fixed income strategies strongly predict subsequent changes in ILB mispricing, whereas other hedge fund categories lack statistically significant forecasting power. Furthermore, I analyze the effects of monetary policy on arbitrage mispricing and find that central banks have exacerbated mispricing through large-scale asset purchase programs.

The third chapter extends the analysis of inflation-linked securities markets. The magnitude of deflation risk and the economic and financial factors that contribute to deflation risk are not well studied. This chapter, jointly written with Francis A. Longstaff and Hanno Lustig, presents a new market-based approach for measuring deflation risk. This approach allows us to solve directly for the market's assessment of the probability of deflation for horizons of up to 30 years using the prices of inflation swaps and options. We find that the market prices the economic tail risk of deflation very similarly to other types of tail risks such as catastrophic insurance losses. In contrast, inflation tail risk has only a relatively small premium.

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