Asset returns and the real economy
This thesis presents an empirical investigation of the behaviour of financial markets and also the relationship on the real economy. The thesis will focus on Ireland, a small open economy with increased dependence on international developments. Two important aspects of the Irish economy, the term structure of interest rates and impact of exchange rate volatility, will be analysed. The motivation for the analysis of the term structure of interest rates in part I is two fold. Central banks can control very short-term interest rates, but of course the real economy will only really be affected by the long-term interest rate. Therefore the transmission mechanism from monetary policy to the real economy will depend on the relationship between short-term interest rates and long-term interest rates, i.e. the term structure of interest rates. The second important issue is that of market efficiency, and whether asset prices and returns are correctly valued by the market. A number of different interest rate maturities will be used to test the Expectations Hypothesis (EH) of term structure. The EH will also be tested assuming constant and time varying term premia. The results give support for the EH, and fmd no evidence of a time varying term premium. Given the recent extraordinary growth in the share of Irish exports in GDP, the impact of exchange rate volatility on Irish exports is analysed in part 2. The moti vation behind part 2 is to test whether the resulting monetary union will lead to a rise in exports, as a result of the end of exchange rate risk. Using the cointegration-ECM methodology I fmd that in the long-run there is no significant effect on Irish exports to the UK, while there is actually a positive impact on exports to European countries (UK included). I tentatively conclude that in the long-run the involvement in a single European currency will have no impact on trade.