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ABSTRACT

Expectations theories of asset returns may be interpreted either as stating that risk premia are zero or that they are constant through time. Under the former interpretation, different versions of the expectations theory of the term structure are inconsistent with one another, but I show that this does not necessarily carry over to the constant risk premium interpretation of the theory. I present a general equilibrium example in which different types of risk premium are constant through time and dependent only on maturity. Furthermore, I argue that differences among expectations theories are second-order effects of bond yield variability. I develop an approximate linearized framework for analysis of the term structure in which these differences disappear, and I test its accuracy in practice using data from the CRSP government bond tapes.