Any security’s expected return can be decomposed into its “carry” and its expected price appreciation, where carry is a model-free characteristic that can be observed in advance. While carry has been studied almost exclusively for currencies, we find that carry predicts returns both in the cross section and time series for a variety of different asset classes including global equities, global bonds, commodities, US Treasuries, credit, and options. This predictability rejects a generalized version of the uncovered interest rate parity and expectations hypothesis in favor of models with varying risk premia. Our global carry factor across markets delivers strong average returns and, while it is exposed to recession, liquidity, and volatility risks, its performance presents a challenge to asset pricing models.
CARRY TRADES AND CURRENCY CRASHES
This paper documents that carry traders are subject to crash risk: i.e. exchange rate movements between high-interest-rate and low-interest-rate currencies are negatively skewed. We argue that this negative skewness is due to sudden unwinding of carry trades, which tend to occur in periods in which risk appetite and funding liquidity decrease. Funding liquidity measures predict exchange rate movements, and controlling for liquidity helps explain the uncovered interest-rate puzzle. Carry-trade losses reduce future crash risk, but increase the price of crash risk. We also document excess co-movement among currencies with similar interest rate. Our findings are subject to funding liquidity constraints.
All photography by Jared Chambers