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WORKING PAPER

What Determines Expected International Asset Returns?

Campbell R. Harvey

Duke University, Durham, NC 27706, USA

National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Bruno Solnik

HEC- School of Management, Jouy en Josas, 78350, FRANCE

Guofu Zhou

Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA

Abtract

This paper characterizes the forces that determine time-variation in expected international asset returns. We offer a number of innovations. By using the latent factor technique, we do not have to prespecify the sources of risk. We solve for the latent premiums and characterize their time-variation. We find evidence that the first factor premium resembles the expected return on the world market porfolio. However, the inclusion of this premium alone is not sufficient to explain the conditional variation in the returns. We find evidence of a second factor premium which is related to foreign exchange risk. Our sample includes new data on both international industry portfolios and international fixed income portfolios. We find that the two latent factor model performs better in explaining the conditional variation in asset returns than a prespecified two factor model. Finally, we show that differences in the risk loadings are important in accounting for the cross-sectional variation in the international returns.