Interest rate risk

14/05/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

Interest rate risk is the potential for investment losses that result from a change in interest rates. If interest rates rise, for instance, the value of a bond or other fixed-income investment will decline. The change in a bond’s price given a change in interest rates is known as its duration.

Interest rate risk can be reduced by holding bonds of different durations, and investors may also allay interest rate risk by hedging fixed-income investments with interest rate swaps, options, or other interest rate derivatives.

  • Interest rate risk is the potential that a change in overall interest rates will reduce the value of a bond or other fixed-rate investment:
  • As interest rates rise bond prices fall, and vice versa. This means that the market price of existing bonds drops to offset the more attractive rates of new bond issues.
  • Interest rate risk is measured by a fixed income security’s duration, with longer-term bonds having a greater price sensitivity to rate changes.
  • Interest rate risk can be reduced through diversification of bond maturities or hedged using interest rate derivatives.

Interest rate changes can affect many investments, but it impacts the value of bonds and other fixed-income securities most directly. Bondholders, therefore, carefully monitor interest rates and make decisions based on how interest rates are perceived to change over time.

For fixed-income securities, as interest rates rise security prices fall (and vice versa). This is because when interest rates increase, the opportunity cost of holding those bonds increases that is, the cost of missing out on an even better investment is greater. The rates earned on bonds therefore have less appeal as rates rise, so if a bond paying a fixed rate of 5% is trading at its par value of $1,000 when prevailing interest rates are also at 5%, it becomes far less attractive to earn that same 5% when rates elsewhere start to rise to say 6% or 7%. In order to compensate for this economic disadvantage in the market, the value of these bonds must fall – because who will want to own a 5% interest rate when they can get 7% with some different bond.

Therefore, for bonds that have a fixed rate, when interest rates rise to a point above that fixed level, investors switch to investments that reflect the higher interest rate. Securities that were issued before the interest rate change can compete with new issues only by dropping their prices.

Interest rate risk can be managed through hedging or diversification strategies that reduce a portfolio’s effective duration or negate the effect of rate changes.