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How Well Does the Federal Funds Futures Rate Predict the Future Federal Funds Rate?

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Contrary to popular belief, federal funds futures rates do not tell us precisely where the market thinks federal funds rates will be in the future. On average, futures rates overpredict future fed funds rates, and, depending on whether fed funds rates are falling or rising, the futures rate may consistently overestimate or underestimate the future fed funds rates. To obtain a reliable estimate of the future fed funds rate, one must adjust the fed funds futures rate appropriately to account for the bias and past movements of the fed funds rate.

Contrary to popular belief, federal funds futures rates do not tell us precisely where the market thinks federal funds rates will be in the future. On average, futures rates overpredict future fed funds rates, and, depending on whether fed funds rates are falling or rising, the futures rate may consistently overestimate or underestimate the future fed funds rates. To obtain a reliable estimate of the future fed funds rate, one must adjust the fed funds futures rate appropriately to account for the bias and past movements of the fed funds rate.


Suggested citation: Nosal, Ed, 2001. "How Well Does the Federal Funds Futures Rate Predict the Future Federal Funds Rate?" Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary, 10.01.2001.

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