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Movements in the term structure of interest rates

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  • Robert R. Bliss

Abstract

Bond prices tend to move together. Stocks tend to go their own way. This distinction requires completely different approaches to managing risks for these securities. For equities the emphasis is on reducing idiosyncratic risk through portfolio diversification. For interest rate-sensitive securities it is on precisely balancing a portfolio to achieve the desired exposure to systematic risk factors. ; Hedging to reduce or eliminate the common factors influencing an interest rate-sensitive portfolio's value requires a model of interest rate behavior. This article reviews and extends previous studies showing that term structure movements can be decomposed into three components-changes in the general level of interest rates, changes in the slope of the term structure, and changes in the curvature of the term structure. It presents empirical analysis showing that since 1970 the structure of these factors has not changed appreciably even though interest rate volatility has. The author provides a numerical example demonstrating that hedging based on the factor decomposition is superior to hedging based on the traditional method of Macaulay duration.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert R. Bliss, 1997. "Movements in the term structure of interest rates," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 4, pages 16-33.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:1997:i:q4:p:16-33:n:v.82no.4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ross, Stephen A., 1976. "The arbitrage theory of capital asset pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 341-360, December.
    2. Duffee, Gregory R, 1996. " Idiosyncratic Variation of Treasury Bill Yields," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(2), pages 527-551, June.
    3. John C. Cox & Jonathan E. Ingersoll Jr. & Stephen A. Ross, 2005. "A Theory Of The Term Structure Of Interest Rates," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Theory Of Valuation, chapter 5, pages 129-164 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1999. "Error Bands for Impulse Responses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(5), pages 1113-1156, September.
    5. Knez, Peter J & Litterman, Robert & Scheinkman, Jose Alexandre, 1994. " Explorations into Factors Explaining Money Market Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(5), pages 1861-1882, December.
    6. Vasicek, Oldrich, 1977. "An equilibrium characterization of the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 177-188, November.
    7. Robert R. Bliss & David C. Smith, 1997. "The stability of interest rate processes," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 97-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    8. William F. Sharpe, 1964. "Capital Asset Prices: A Theory Of Market Equilibrium Under Conditions Of Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 19(3), pages 425-442, September.
    9. Dhrymes, Phoebus J & Friend, Irwin & Gultekin, N Bulent, 1984. " A Critical Reexamination of the Empirical Evidence on the Arbitrage Pricing Theory," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(2), pages 323-346, June.
    10. Fama, Eugene F & Bliss, Robert R, 1987. "The Information in Long-Maturity Forward Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 680-692, September.
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    Keywords

    Bonds ; Interest rates ; Stocks;

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