Why have riskless zero-coupon bonds been so successful with investors?

Case: Cougars (HBS Case 295006) The purpose of a case is to challenge you to identify the key issues of the decision situation at hand. Here are a few pointers: 1. Why have riskless zero-coupon bonds been so successful with investors? 2. What relationship do the prices of riskless zero-coupon bonds have with the term structure of interest rates? 3. How are spot, strip and coupon yield related? 4. From the data in the case, reproduce implied spot curve. Compare it against Cougar Strip curve. 5. Discuss the role of bid-ask spread in those calculations. 6. How much value did A.G. Becker Paribas create for itself through the COUGARs offering? What was the source of this value? (Assume that the T-bill maturing on December 6, 1983 is trading at 8.11% discount yield on November 16, 1983.) 7. What advice would you give to Ms. Baker? Why? You may organize and draft report in whichever way you see fit. If you feel that you have to make any assumptions, please do it by stating them clearly in your report. Please note: Those questions are designed to guide you to important points in your analysis. What is important and what is not in the case itself is up to you to determine and is part of a challenge for this case. 1. Please note that the bond that investment bank is stripping is actually the last one in Ex 2. They are taking one unit of 20 year bond and create 40 different securities out of it. Prices of those securities are reported in Ex.1. So, the first question is really is the bank making money in this transaction? Hint: They do! 2. Then you need to bootstrap bonds from Ex.2. Hint: DO NOT EVEN TRY TO BOOTSTRAP BONDS FROM EX.1 Please note a few technicalities: (a) For each maturity there are multiple bonds. You are supposed to use the “on the run” bonds. I know that case does not provide the info on which one is “on the run” and which one is “off the run”. But you can make a good guess by using the ones that are closest to par. (b) Ignore callable bonds (ones marked “90-95” and alike. (c) You probably would not be able to do the whole 20 years without assumptions about the gaps. The good news is that you do not have to. Combining what you know from short end of the curve and the fact in #1 above should allow you to make all the necessary logical conclusions. (d) Another technicality: If suddenly you are getting jumps in rates (let us say 9.5%-22%-10%) – most likely you made mistake. 3. You will find certain pattern of mispricing. Try to speculate why bank prices its Cougars the way they do.

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