Watching the Yield Curve

Bond maturities and their yields are related. Typically, bonds with longer maturities pay higher yields. Why? Because the longer a bondholder must wait for the bond’s principal to be repaid, the greater the risk compared to an identical bond with a shorter maturity, and the more return investors demand.

If you were to draw a line on a chart that compares the yields of, for example, Treasury securities with various maturities, you would typically see a line that slopes upward as maturities lengthen and yields increase. The greater the difference between the yields on T-bills and 30-year bonds, the steeper that slope. A steep yield curve often occurs because investors want greater compensation for tying up their money for longer periods and running the risk that inflation will cut net returns over time. A flat yield curve means that there is little difference between short and long maturities.

However, sometimes the yield curve can actually become inverted; in this case, short-term interest rates are higher than long-term rates. For example, in 2004 the Federal Reserve Board began increasing short-term rates, but long-term rates didn’t rise as quickly. A yield curve that stays inverted for a period of time is believed to indicate a recession may be about to occur.

A Sample Treasury Yield Curve

 


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Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.
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Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017.