Duration gap

Last updated


The difference between the duration of assets and liabilities held by a financial entity. [1]

Bond duration

In finance, the duration of a financial asset that consists of fixed cash flows, for example a bond, is the weighted average of the times until those fixed cash flows are received. When the price of an asset is considered as a function of yield, duration also measures the price sensitivity to yield, the rate of change of price with respect to yield or the percentage change in price for a parallel shift in yields.

Asset economic resource, from which future economic benefits are expected

In financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned by the business. Anything tangible or intangible that can be owned or controlled to produce value and that is held by a company to produce positive economic value is an asset. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash. The balance sheet of a firm records the monetary value of the assets owned by that firm. It covers money and other valuables belonging to an individual or to a business.

Liability (financial accounting) sum of the equity and the liabilities

In financial accounting, a liability is defined as the future sacrifices of economic benefits that the entity is obliged to make to other entities as a result of past transactions or other past events, the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of assets, provision of services or other yielding of economic benefits in the future.



The duration gap is a financial and accounting term and is typically used by banks, pension funds, or other financial institutions to measure their risk due to changes in the interest rate. This is one of the mismatches that can occur and are known as asset liability mismatches.

Accounting measurement, processing and communication of financial information about economic entities

Accounting or accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial information about economic entities such as businesses and corporations. The modern field was established by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1494. Accounting, which has been called the "language of business", measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users, including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms "accounting" and "financial reporting" are often used as synonyms.

Another way to define Duration Gap is: it is the difference in the price sensitivity of interest-yielding assets and the price sensitivity of liabilities (of the organization) to a change in market interest rates (yields). [2]

The duration gap measures how well matched are the timings of cash inflows (from assets) and cash outflows (from liabilities).

Cash flow movement of money into or out of a business, project, or financial product

A cash flow is a real or virtual movement of money:

When the duration of assets is larger than the duration of liabilities, the duration gap is positive. In this situation, if interest rates rise, assets will lose more value than liabilities, thus reducing the value of the firm's equity. If interest rates fall, assets will gain more value than liabilities, thus increasing the value of the firm's equity.

Interest fee paid by the debtor to the creditor for temporarily borrowed capital

Interest is payment from a borrower or deposit-taking financial institution to a lender or depositor of an amount above repayment of the principal sum, at a particular rate. It is distinct from a fee which the borrower may pay the lender or some third party. It is also distinct from dividend which is paid by a company to its shareholders (owners) from its profit or reserve, but not at a particular rate decided beforehand, rather on a pro rata basis as a share in the reward gained by risk taking entrepreneurs when the revenue earned exceeds the total costs.

Conversely, when the duration of assets is less than the duration of liabilities, the duration gap is negative. If interest rates rise, liabilities will lose more value than assets, thus increasing the value of the firm's equity. If interest rates decline, liabilities will gain more value than assets, thus decreasing the value of the firm's equity.

By duration matching, that is creating a zero duration gap, the firm becomes immunized against interest rate risk. Duration has a double-facet view. It can be beneficial or harmful depending on where interest rates are headed.

In finance, interest rate immunization, as developed by Frank Redington is a strategy that ensures that a change in interest rates will not affect the value of a portfolio. Similarly, immunization can be used to ensure that the value of a pension fund's or a firm's assets will increase or decrease in exactly the opposite amount of their liabilities, thus leaving the value of the pension fund's surplus or firm's equity unchanged, regardless of changes in the interest rate.

Interest rate risk is the risk that arises for bond owners from fluctuating interest rates. How much interest rate risk a bond has depends on how sensitive its price is to interest rate changes in the market. The sensitivity depends on two things, the bond's time to maturity, and the coupon rate of the bond.

Some of the limitations of duration gap management include the following:

When the duration gap is zero, the firm is immunized only if the size of the liabilities equals the size of the assets. In this example with a two-year loan of one million and a one-year asset of two millions, the firm is still exposed to rollover risk after one year when the remaining year of the two-year loan has to be financed.

See also

Related Research Articles

Discounted cash flow method of valuing a project, company, or asset using the concepts of the time value of money

In finance, discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis is a method of valuing a project, company, or asset using the concepts of the time value of money. All future cash flows are estimated and discounted by using cost of capital to give their present values (PVs). The sum of all future cash flows, both incoming and outgoing, is the net present value (NPV), which is taken as the value of the cash flows in question.

In finance, the net present value (NPV) or net present worth (NPW) is the summation of the present (now) value of a series of present and future cash flows. Because NPV accounts for the time value of money NPV provides a method for evaluating and comparing products with cash flows spread over many years, as in loans, investments, payouts from insurance contracts plus many other applications.

Equity (finance) difference between the value of the assets/interest and the cost of the liabilities of something owned

In accounting, equity is the difference between the value of the assets and the value of the liabilities of something owned. It is governed by the following equation:

The weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is the rate that a company is expected to pay on average to all its security holders to finance its assets. The WACC is commonly referred to as the firm's cost of capital. Importantly, it is dictated by the external market and not by management. The WACC represents the minimum return that a company must earn on an existing asset base to satisfy its creditors, owners, and other providers of capital, or they will invest elsewhere.

Swap (finance) financial derivative product

A swap is a derivative in which two counterparties exchange cash flows of one party's financial instrument for those of the other party's financial instrument. The benefits in question depend on the type of financial instruments involved. For example, in the case of a swap involving two bonds, the benefits in question can be the periodic interest (coupon) payments associated with such bonds. Specifically, two counterparties agree to exchange one stream of cash flows against another stream. These streams are called the legs of the swap. The swap agreement defines the dates when the cash flows are to be paid and the way they are accrued and calculated. Usually at the time when the contract is initiated, at least one of these series of cash flows is determined by an uncertain variable such as a floating interest rate, foreign exchange rate, equity price, or commodity price.

In economics and accounting, the cost of capital is the cost of a company's funds, or, from an investor's point of view "the required rate of return on a portfolio company's existing securities". It is used to evaluate new projects of a company. It is the minimum return that investors expect for providing capital to the company, thus setting a benchmark that a new project has to meet.

Bond valuation

Bond valuation is the determination of the fair price of a bond. As with any security or capital investment, the theoretical fair value of a bond is the present value of the stream of cash flows it is expected to generate. Hence, the value of a bond is obtained by discounting the bond's expected cash flows to the present using an appropriate discount rate. In practice, this discount rate is often determined by reference to similar instruments, provided that such instruments exist. Various related yield-measures are then calculated for the given price.

In finance, bond convexity is a measure of the non-linear relationship of bond prices to changes in interest rates, the second derivative of the price of the bond with respect to interest rates. In general, the higher the duration, the more sensitive the bond price is to the change in interest rates. Bond convexity is one of the most basic and widely used forms of convexity in finance.

Return on capital (ROC), or return on invested capital (ROIC), is a ratio used in finance, valuation and accounting, as a measure of the profitability and value-creating potential of companies after taking into account the amount of initial capital invested. The ratio is calculated by dividing the after-tax operating income (NOPAT) by the book value of both debt and equity capital less cash/equivalents.

In finance, a foreign exchange option is a derivative financial instrument that gives the right but not the obligation to exchange money denominated in one currency into another currency at a pre-agreed exchange rate on a specified date. See Foreign exchange derivative.

In finance, leverage is any technique involving the use of debt rather than fresh equity in the purchase of an asset, with the expectation that the after-tax profit to equity holders from the transaction will exceed the borrowing cost, frequently by several multiples⁠ ⁠— hence the provenance of the word from the effect of a lever in physics, a simple machine which amplifies the application of a comparatively small input force into a correspondingly greater output force. Normally, the lender will set a limit on how much risk it is prepared to take and will set a limit on how much leverage it will permit, and would require the acquired asset to be provided as collateral security for the loan. For example, for a residential property the finance provider may lend up to, say, 80% of the property's market value, for a commercial property it may be 70%, while on shares it may lend up to, say, 60% or none at all on certain volatile shares.

Business valuation is a process and a set of procedures used to estimate the economic value of an owner's interest in a business. Valuation is used by financial market participants to determine the price they are willing to pay or receive to effect a sale of a business. In addition to estimating the selling price of a business, the same valuation tools are often used by business appraisers to resolve disputes related to estate and gift taxation, divorce litigation, allocate business purchase price among business assets, establish a formula for estimating the value of partners' ownership interest for buy-sell agreements, and many other business and legal purposes such as in shareholders deadlock, divorce litigation and estate contest. In some cases, the court would appoint a forensic accountant as the joint expert doing the business valuation.

Initially pioneered by financial institutions during the 1970s as interest rates became increasingly volatile, asset and liability management is the practice of managing risks that arise due to mismatches between the assets and liabilities.

In corporate finance, Hamada’s equation, named after Robert Hamada, is used to separate the financial risk of a levered firm from its business risk. The equation combines the Modigliani-Miller theorem with the capital asset pricing model. It is used to help determine the levered beta and, through this, the optimal capital structure of firms.

Dedicated portfolio theory, in finance, deals with the characteristics and features of a portfolio built to generate a predictable stream of future cash inflows. This is achieved by purchasing bonds and/or other fixed income securities that can and usually are held to maturity to generate this predictable stream from the coupon interest and/or the repayment of the face value of each bond when it matures. The goal is for the stream of cash inflows to exactly match the timing of a predictable stream of cash outflows due to future liabilities. For this reason it is sometimes called cash matching, or liability-driven investing. Determining the least expensive collection of bonds in the right quantities with the right maturities to match the cash flows is an analytical challenge that requires some degree of mathematical sophistication. College level textbooks typically cover the idea of “dedicated portfolios” or “dedicated bond portfolios” in their chapters devoted to the uses of fixed income securities.

Corporate finance area of finance dealing with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations

Corporate finance is an area of finance that deals with sources of funding, the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, and the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. The primary goal of corporate finance is to maximize or increase shareholder value. Although it is in principle different from managerial finance which studies the financial management of all firms, rather than corporations alone, the main concepts in the study of corporate finance are applicable to the financial problems of all kinds of firms.

In corporate finance, free cash flow to equity (FCFE) is a metric of how much cash can be distributed to the equity shareholders of the company as dividends or stock buybacks—after all expenses, reinvestments, and debt repayments are taken care of. Whereas dividends are the cash flows actually paid to shareholders, the FCFE is the cash flow simply available to shareholders. The FCFE is usually calculated as a part of DCF or LBO modelling and valuation. The FCFE is also called the levered free cash flow.


  1. Lee, Cheng-Few; Lee, Alice C. (2006-05-05). Encyclopedia of Finance. Springer. pp. 423–. ISBN   9780387262840 . Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  2. Skinner, Frank (2004-10-29). Pricing and Hedging Interest and Credit Risk Sensitive Instruments. Butterworth-Heinemann. pp. 218–. ISBN   9780080473956 . Retrieved 15 February 2013.