Yield Curve Risk Measures


Professor of Finance, EDHEC Business School


Professor of Finance, Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina

Abstract: Duration is a useful metric for assessing a bond portfolio's sensitivity to a parallel shift in the reference yield curve (e.g., the Treasury yield curve). When the yield curve shift is not parallel, however, two bond portfolios with the same duration will not generally experience the same return performance. To evaluate differences in expected performance across portfolios, it is therefore necessary to quantify the price impact due to changes in the shape, as opposed to a parallel shift, of the yield curve. The risk exposure of a portfolio to changes in the yield curve is called yield curve risk. Several approaches have been suggested for measuring yield curve risk.

Duration and convexity are useful measures for approximating how the value of a bond portfolio or a bond index will change for a parallel shift in interest rates. Yet, empirically, both published studies1 and proprietary studies by asset management firms have found that yield curve changes are not parallel. The exposure of a bond portfolio or a bond index to changes in the shape of the yield curve is called yield curve risk.

There are several approaches for measuring yield curve risk. In this entry, we describe some of the more common approaches: cash-flow distribution analysis versus a benchmark, key rate ...

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