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Explain The Term Structure Of Interest Rates - Essay Example

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Explain The Term Structure Of Interest Rates

Interest date data for bonds with different maturities date is published frequently and investors can use it to determine the term structure of interest rates. Some of the most popular interest rate data sources are the Wall Street Journal, Federal Reserve Bulletin and websites like Bloomberg and CNN. The term structure can be verified at any point in time by using published data from renowned sources. Yield curves are drawn using this published data on interest rates. There are short term and long term interest rates. Since long term interest rates have an element of maturity risk premium (MRP), they are usually higher than short term rates. When researching on the term structure of interest rates, it is important to have knowledge of commonly used terms like the Yield to Maturity (YTM), which is defined as the expected rate of return on a bond held till maturity (Brigham and Ehrhardt, 2010). Another concept which is discussed with YTM is that of the zero coupon bonds (or discount bonds). A zero coupon bond is a financial asset which at the date of maturity T, pays its holder a lump sum amount, with no coupon payments before the date of maturity (hence the name zero-coupon). The YTM at time t of a discount bond with maturity T is the constant and continuously compounded rate of rate of return at which the price of the bond accrues from time t to time T and pays one currency unit to the holder at time T. The YTM is also referred to as the spot rate and the notation R (t, T) is used for it. Spot rates are short term interest rates and the term structure of interest rates depicts the relationship between spot rates and their dates of maturity (Gibson, Lhabitant and Talay, 2010). Interest rates are not only used in discounting and pricing for zero-coupon bonds but also other financial derivatives because their prices are sensitive to interest rates. If we go beyond the scope of an individual investor, we can see that interest rates are also important to corporations. This is because when corporations are doing project appraisals, they use interest rate for computing the net present value and the discounted payback period for a project. The cost of capital which is of prime importance to corporations also depends upon interest rates (Benninga and Wiener, 1998). It will be useful to specify the type of interest rate before discussing investment decisions and discounting. There are two main types of interest rates: simple interest rate and compound interest rate. Simple rate of interest is interest on a lump sum principal amount and it does not itself earn interest. Quite contrary to this, is the compound rate of interest which itself earns interest. Investment decisions and discounting are all predominantly based on compound interest rates (Kelly and Tracy, 2010) Long term interest rates are an average of short term interest rates. The relationship between short and long term interest rates involves expectations. For example, if it is expected that short term interest rates will fall then the long term interest rates will fall below the current short term rate. The contrary situation is also valid: if it is expected that short term interest rates will increase then the long term interest rates will rise above the current short term rate. These two situations are possible only because long term rates are derived from short term rates. It is a general perception that long rates are greater than short rates and this is termed as the ‘ ...Show more


Introduction Interest rate is the cost of borrowing money. The term structure of interest rates defines the relationship between short and long term rates and the yield curve depicts this relationship graphically. Knowledge of interest rates is important to both, lenders and borrowers…
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