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Risk and Return in Fixed Income Arbitage: Nickels in Front of a Steamroller?


We conduct an analysis of the risk and return characteristics of a number of widely used fixed income arbitrage strategies. We find that the strategies requiring more “intellectual capital” to implement tend to produce significant alphas after controlling for bond and equity market risk factors. We show that the risk-adjusted excess returns from these strategies are related to capital flows into fixed income arbitrage hedge funds. In contrast with other hedge fund strategies, we find that many of the fixed income arbitrage strategies produce positively skewed returns. These results suggest that there may be more economic substance to fixed income arbitrage than simply “picking up nickels in front of a steamroller.”

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