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Modeling the Term Structure of Interest Rates: Where Do We Stand?


  • Konstantijn Maes

    () (K.U.Leuven and University of Amsterdam)

  • Konstantijn Maes


This paper provides an introduction to the mathematical models that describe the shape of the term structure of interest rates across time. In essence, all these so-called term structure models are driven by the assumption that arbitrage opportunities are absent. The intuitive concept of absence of arbitrage can be linked directly to the existence of a pricing kernel and a risk neutral probability measure. The latter concepts are at the heart of the finance literature and play a unifying role in it. Moreover, by assuming that the state of the economy is well-described by factors that follow diffusion dynamics, factor-dependent expressions for prices and yields can be derived. Typically and for reasons of tractability, additional model assumptions are imposed on the factor dynamics, giving rise to the so-called affine class of term structure models. We discuss the fundamental trade-off between empirical flexibility and theoretical rigor that applies to all models within the affine class of term structure models. Recently, the class of quadratic term structure models has been proposed and seems to outperform the affine class in terms of matching the economic moments of the yield curve. However, given the lack of uniform data samples and the widely differing estimation methods, much robustness work remains to be done.

Suggested Citation

  • Konstantijn Maes & Konstantijn Maes, 2003. "Modeling the Term Structure of Interest Rates: Where Do We Stand?," International Economics Working Papers Series wpie008, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kul:kulwps:wpie008

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    Cited by:

    1. Felix Geiger, 2009. "International Interest-Rate Risk Premia in Affine Term Structure Models," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 316/2009, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
    2. Joseph G. Haubrich & George Pennacchi & Peter H. Ritchken, 2008. "Estimating real and nominal term structures using Treasury yields, inflation, inflation forecasts, and inflation swap rates," Working Paper 0810, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    3. Sanford, Andrew D. & Martin, Gael M., 2005. "Simulation-based Bayesian estimation of an affine term structure model," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 527-554, April.
    4. Konstantijn Maes, 2004. "Interest Rate Risk in the Belgian Banking Sector," Financial Stability Review, National Bank of Belgium, vol. 2(1), pages 157-179, June.
    5. Hans Dewachter & Marco Lyrio & Konstantijn Maes, 2006. "A multi-factor model for the valuation and risk managment of demand deposits," Working Paper Research 83, National Bank of Belgium.
    6. Christopher M. Bilson & Timothy J. Brailsford & Luke J. Sullivan & Sirimon Treepongkaruna, 2008. "Pricing Bonds in the Australian Market," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 33(1), pages 123-143, June.
    7. Geert Langenus, 2006. "Fiscal sustainability indicators and policy design in the face of ageing," Working Paper Research 102, National Bank of Belgium.
    8. Fendel, Ralf, 2004. "Towards a Joint Characterization of Monetary Policy and the Dynamics of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,24, Deutsche Bundesbank.

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    term structure of interest rates; affine term structure model; review;

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