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Financial data are often assumed to be generated by diffusions. Using recent results of Fan et al. (J Am Stat Assoc, 102:618–631, 2007; J Financ Econometer, 5:321–357, 2007) and a multiple comparisons procedure created by Benjamini and Hochberg (J R Stat Soc Ser B, 59:289–300, 1995), we develop a test for non-stationarity of a one-dimensional diffusion based on the time inhomogeneity of the diffusion function. The procedure uses a single sample path of the diffusion and involves two estimators, one temporal and one spatial. We first apply the test to simulated data generated from a variety of one-dimensional diffusions. We then apply our test to interest rate data and real exchange rate data. The application to real exchange rate data is of particular interest, since a consequence of the law of one price (or the theory of purchasing power parity) is that real exchange rates should be stationary. With the exception of the GBP/USD real exchange rate, we find evidence that interest rates and real exchange rates are generally non-stationary. The software used to implement the estimation and testing procedure is available on demand and we describe its use in the paper.


First published in Mathematical Methods of Operations Research by Springer-Verlag 2008