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Term Structure of Interest Rates Theories

Term Structure of Interest Rates Theories: The term structure of interest rate refers to the relationship between time to maturity and yields for a particular category of bonds at a particular point in time. Particular theories are developed to explain the nature of bond yields over time.

Term Structure of Interest Rates Theories

The following Term Structure of Interest Rates Theories is vital in this regard.

Expectations Theory

Expectations theory of term structure of interest rates states that market participants and the market forces as well will determine the return from holding security where the return from holding an n-period bond equals the average return expected from holding a series of one-year bonds over the same n-periods. The long-term rate of interest would be equal to an average of the present yield on short-term bonds plus the expected future yields on short-term bonds which are expected to prevail over the long-term period. For each period, the total rate of return is expected to be the same on all securities regardless of the time to maturity. The term structure of interest rate consists of a set of forwarding rates and spot rates. The spot rate is the rate that is applicable today and the forward rates are expected to prevail in the future.

The rate of return an investor requires to invest is a function of three factors as:

  1. risk-free real rate of return,
  2. inflation and iii. risk premium.

More specifically,

E(r) = risk-free rate + inflation + risk premium

The rate of return for the n th year bond can be estimated by using the following formula:

(1 + trn) = [(1 + t r 1 ) (1 + t + 1 r 1) – – – – – (1 + t + n-1 r 1)] 1/n -1


(1 + trn) = the rate of return on a n-year bond,

(1 + t r 1 ) = current rate on a one-year bond,

(1 + t + 1 r 1) = the expected rate on a bond with one-year to maturity beginning one-year from now,

(1 + t + n-1 r 1) = the expected rate on a bond with one-year to maturity beginning n -1-year from now,

n = bond maturity period.

The formula is applicable for any number of periods. Any long-term rate is the geometric average of a consecutive one-period rate.

Term Structure of Interest RatesLet us consider an example.


Suppose the one-year bond rate is 10 percent and two forward rates are 11 percent and 12 percent. Find out the three-year bond.

This problem can be solved by using the geometric average of the current one-year rate and the expected forward rates for the subsequent two years as follows:

(1 + tr3) = [(1 + t r1 ) (1 + t + 1 r 1) (1 + t + 2 r 1)] 1/3 -1.0

= [(1.10)(1.11)(1.12)]1/3 – 1.0

= [1.3675] 1/3 – 1.0 = 1.11- 1.0 = 0.11 = 11%


Liquidity Preference Theory

Liquidity preference theory asserts that as in the expectations theory, interest rates reflect the sum of current and expected short rates plus liquidity premiums. Because of the uncertainty in the future, investors prefer to invest in short-term bonds. On the other hand, borrowers prefer the long-term to invest in capital assets. Under these circumstances, investors are supposed to receive a liquidity premium to invest in long-term bonds. Therefore, this theory implies that long-term bonds should offer higher yields.


Preferred Habitat Theory

The difference between the expectations theory and liquidity preference theory is the recognition that future interest rate expectations are uncertain. To compensate for this uncertainty, risk-averse investors would like a higher rate for long-term bonds. Being the third theory of term structure of interest rates, preferred habitat theory asserts that investors usually prefer maturity sectors or habits. A financial institution with many five-year maturity deposits to pay off will not wish to take the reinvestment rate risk that would result from investing in one-year Treasury bills. This theory means that the borrowers and lenders can be induced to shift maturities if they are adequately compensated by an appropriate risk premium. 

Term Structure of Interest Rates Theories.


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About Mohammed Ahaduzzaman

Mr. Zaman is a Founder and Freelance Writer @ BBALectures Blog! Blogging is his passion. He loves writing on Entrepreneurship, Finances, Accounting, HR and Business Issues. By profession, He serving as Accounting Professional at Zaman Accounting.

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