Journal of Econometrics

Volume 116, Issues 1-2, September-October 2003, Pages 147-180

J. Econometrics 116 (2003) 147-180

Purebred or hybrid?: Reproducing the volatility in term structure dynamics

a Dong-Hyun Ahn
b Robert F. Dittmar
c A. Ronald Gallant
d Bin Gao

aCollege of Business Administration, Korea University and Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina
bKelley School of Business, Indiana University
cDepartment of Economics, University of North Carolina
dKenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina

Received xxxx; revised xxxx; accepted xxxx


This paper investigates the ability of mixtures of affine, quadratic, and nonlinear models to track the volatility in the term structure of interest rates. Term structure dynamics appear to exhibit pronounced time varying or stochastic volatility. Ahn, Dittmar, and Gallant (2001) provide evidence suggesting that term structure models incorporating a set of quadratic factors are better able to reproduce term structure dynamics than affine models, although neither class of models is able to fully capture term structure volatility. In this study, we combine affine, quadratic and nonlinear factors in order to maximize the ability of a term structure model to generate heteroskedastic volatility. We show that this combination entails a tradeoff between specification of heteroskedastic volatility and correlations among the factors. By combining factors, we are able to gauge the cost of this tradeoff. Using efficient method of moments (Gallant and Tauchen, 1996), we find that augmenting a quadratic model with a nonlinear factor results in improvement in fit over a model comprised solely of quadratic factors when the model only has to confront first and second moment dynamics. When the full dynamics are confronted, this result reverses. Since the nonlinear factor is characterized by stronger dependence of volatility on the level of the factor, we conclude that flexibility in the specification of both level dependence and correlation structure of the factors are important for describing term structure dynamics.

JEL Classification: E43, C14, C15, C52

Keyword(s): Term structure models, yield curve, affine models, quadratic models, inverted square root models, efficient method of moments, simulation estimators