Essays in Asset Pricing

  • Liu Liu

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis improves our understanding of asset prices and returns as it documents a regime shift risk premium in currencies, corrects the estimation bias in the term premium of bond yields, and shows the impact of ambiguity aversion towards parameter uncertainty on equities. The thesis consists of three essays.The first essay "The Yen Risk Premiums: A Story of Regime Shifts in Bond Markets" documents a new monetary mechanism, namely the shift of monetary policies, to account for the forward premium puzzle in the USD-JPY currency pair. The shift of monetary policy regimes is modelled by a regime switching dynamic term structure model where the risk of regime shifts is priced. Our model estimation characterises two policy regimes in the Japanese bond market---a conventional monetary policy regime and an unconventional policy regime of quantitative easing. Using foreign exchange data from 1985 to 2009, we find that the shift of monetary policies generates currency risk: the yen excess return is predicted by the Japanese regime shift premium, and the emergence of the yen carry trade in the mid 1990s is associated with the transition from the conventional to the unconventional monetary policy in Japan.The second essay "Correcting Estimation Bias in Regime Switching Dynamic Term Structure Models" examines the small sample bias in the estimation of a regime switching dynamic term structure model. Using US data from 1971 to 2009, we document two regimes driven by the conditional volatility of bond yields and risk factors. In both regimes, the process of bond yields is highly persistent, which is the source of estimation bias when the sample size is small. After bias correction, the inference about expectations of future policy rates and long-maturity term premia changes dramatically in two high-volatility episodes: the 1979--1982 monetary experiment and the recent financial crisis. Empirical findings are supported by Monte Carlo simulation, which shows that correcting small sample bias leads to more accurate inference about expectations of future policy rates and term premia compared to before bias correction.The third essay "Learning about the Persistence of Recessions under Ambiguity Aversion" incorporates ambiguity aversion into the process of parameter learning and assess the asset pricing implications of the model. Ambiguity is characterised by the unknown parameter that governs the persistence of recessions, and the representative investor learns about this parameter while being ambiguity averse towards parameter uncertainty. We examine model-implied conditional moments and simulated moments of asset prices and returns, and document an uncertainty effect that characterises the difference between learning under ambiguity aversion and learning under standard recursive utility. This uncertainty effect is asymmetric across economic expansions and recessions, and this asymmetry generates in simulation a sharp increase in the equity premium at the onset of recessions, as in the recent financial crisis.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStuart Hyde (Supervisor), Sungjun Cho (Supervisor) & Hening Liu (Supervisor)


  • regime switching
  • term structure models
  • ambiguity aversion
  • asset pricing
  • carry trade

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