Staff Reports
Deconstructing the Yield Curve
Number 884
April 2019 Revised November 2019

JEL classification: C15, C58, G10, G12

Authors: Richard K. Crump and Nikolay Gospodinov

We investigate the factor structure of the term structure of interest rates and argue that characterizing the minimal dimension of the data generating process is more challenging than currently appreciated. As a result, inference procedures for yield curve models that commit to a parsimoniously parameterized factor structure may be omitting important information about the underlying true factor space. To circumvent these difficulties, we introduce a novel nonparametric bootstrap that is robust to general forms of time and cross-sectional dependence and conditional heteroskedasticity of unknown form. We show that our bootstrap procedure is asymptotically valid and exhibits excellent finite-sample properties in simulations. We demonstrate the applicability of our results in two empirical exercises: first, we show that measures of equity market tail risk and the state of the macroeconomy predict bond returns beyond the level or slope of the yield curve; second, we provide a bootstrap-based bias correction and confidence intervals for the probability of recession based on the shape of the yield curve. Our results apply more generally to all assets with a finite maturity structure.

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Richard K. Crump
I declare that I have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in my paper entitled “Deconstructing the Yield Curve,” joint with Nikolay Gospodinov.

Nikolay Gospodinov
The author declares that he has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at
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