The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper challenges the conventional view that foreign exchange risk premiums are small, not volatile, and unrelated to macroeconomic variables. For the Italian lira (1987-94), unconditional risk premiums-constructed using survey data to measure exchange rate expectations-are found to be sizable (relative to the dimension of the forward premium), highly volatile (relative to the variability of the forward bias), and predictable. Estimation of structural models of the risk premium suggests that anticipated fiscal contractions in Italy and lower uncertainty about the future path of fiscal policy are associated with a lower risk premium on lira-denominated assets.