FRBSF Economic Letters

Economic analysis for a general audience

Vasco Cúrdia


Short-term interest rates in the United States have been very low since the financial crisis. Projections of the natural rate of interest indicate that a gradual return of short-term interest rates to normal over the next five years is consistent with promoting maximum employment and stable inflation. Uncertainty about the natural rate that is most consistent with an economy at its full potential suggests that the pace of normalization may be even more gradual than implied by these projections.

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Analysis of current economic developments and the outlook

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Working Papers

The latest in economic research

Michael D. Bauer and James D. Hamilton

A consensus has recently emerged that a number of variables in addition to the level, slope, and curvature of the term structure can help predict interest rates and excess bond returns. We demonstrate that the statistical tests that have been used to support this conclusion are subject to very large size distortions from a previously unrecognized problem arising from highly persistent regressors and correlation between the true predictors and lags of the dependent variable. We revisit the evidence using tests that are robust to this problem and conclude that the current consensus is wrong. Only the level and the slope of the yield curve are robust predictors of excess bond returns, and there is no robust and convincing evidence for unspanned macro risk.

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