Why Gaussian macro-finance term structure models are (nearly) unconstrained factor-VARs

Scott Joslin, Anh Le, Kenneth J. Singleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


This paper explores the implications of filtering and no-arbitrage for the maximum likelihood estimates of the entire conditional distribution of the risk factors and bond yields in Gaussian macro-finance term structure model (MTSM) when all yields are priced imperfectly. For typical yield curves and macro-variables studied in this literature, the estimated joint distribution within a canonical MTSM is nearly identical to the estimate from an economic-model-free factor vector-autoregression (factor-VAR), even when measurement errors are large. It follows that a canonical MTSM offers no new insights into economic questions regarding the historical distribution of the macro risk factors and yields, over and above what is learned from a factor-VAR. These results are rotation-invariant and, therefore, apply to many of the specifications in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-622
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Financial Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management


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