Fixed Income Investments - What are Forward Rates?

Forward rates can be defined as the way the market is feeling about the future movements of interest rates. They do this by extrapolating from the risk-free theoretical spot rate. For example, it is possible to calculate the one-year forward rate one year from now. Forward rates are also known as implied forward rates.
To compute a bond's value using forward rates, you must first calculate this rate. After you have calculated this value, you just plug it into the formula for the prices of a bond where the interest rate or yield would be inserted.

Example:
An investor can purchase a one-year Treasury bill or buy a six-month bill and roll it into another six-month bill once it matures. The investor will be indifferent if they both produce the same result. An investor will know the spot rate for the six-month bill and the one-year bond, but he or she will not know the value of a six-month bill that is purchased six months from now. Given these two rates though, the forward rate on a six-month bill will be the rate that equalizes the dollar return between the two types of investments mentioned earlier.

Answer:
An investor buys a six-month bill for $x. At the end of six months, the value would equal:

x(1 + z1)
where z1 = one half of the bond equivalent yield on the six month spot rate.

F= one half the forward rate (expressed as a BEY) of a six-month rate six months from now. If he bought the six-month bill and reinvested the proceeds for another six months the dollar return would be calculated like this:

X(1 +z1) (1 + F)

For the one year investment the future dollars would be x(1 +z)2

So F = (1 + z2)2/ (1 + z1) - 1

Then double F to get the BEY.

Here are some numbers to try in this formula:
Six-month spot rate is 0.05 = 0.025 = z1
1-year spot rate is 0.055 = 0.0275= z2

F = ( 1.0275)2/ (1.025) -1
F = .030 or .06 or 6% BEY

To confirm this:
X(1.025)(1.03) = 1.05575
X(1.02575)2 = 1.05575

Once you have developed the future rate curve, you can continue to run and gun in the basic bond equation using the forward rates instead of the discount rate to value the bond.

Forward Rates vs Spot Rates
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Invest in Costco? First Understand Its Balance Sheet

    A strong balance sheet sets a company apart and boosts investor confidence. How healthy is Costco based on an analysis of its balance sheets from the last two years?
  2. Investing Basics

    Brokers and RIAs: One and the Same?

    Brokers and registered investment advisors have some key differences. Here's what you need to know.
  3. Professionals

    DCF Vs. Comparables: Which One To Use

    DCF and Comparables models are widely used in equity valuation. We explain the pros and cons of each method.
  4. Professionals

    How To Make Money Using Tobin's Q Ratio

    Although it seems simple, Tobin's Q Ratio is more complex than it appears. We explore some of its main strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Taxes

    3 Secrets You Didn't Know About Estate Planning

    Every advisor and saver needs to know these three estate planning secrets.
  6. Professionals

    Cash Flow Is King: How to Keep it Running

    Why is cash flow so important, and what steps can a business take to improve it?
  7. Entrepreneurship

    10 Ways to Nurse Cash Flow in Healthcare

    Running a business in healthcare? You might want to rethink cash flow management practices.
  8. Professionals

    How to Help Clients with Cash Flow Issues

    Sometimes your spending gets out of hand or income has a hiccup. Here's how financial advisors can help clients who have cash flow issues.
  9. Professionals

    How to Improve Your Cash Flow in Manufacturing

    Here are 10 ways to to improve a manufacturer's cash flow.
  10. Professionals

    10 Ways to Improve Cash Flow in Construction

    Improving cash flow in construction requires some sector-specific strategies.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Personal Financial Advisor

    Professionals who help individuals manage their finances by providing ...
  2. CFA Institute

    Formerly known as the Association for Investment Management and ...
  3. Chartered Financial Analyst - CFA

    A professional designation given by the CFA Institute (formerly ...
  4. Security Analyst

    A financial professional who studies various industries and companies, ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are the differences between a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Certified ...

    The differences between a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) are many, but comes down ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do I become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)?

    According to the CFA Institute, a person who holds a CFA charter is not a chartered financial analyst. The CFA Institute ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What types of positions might a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) hold?

    The types of positions that a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is likely to hold include any position that deals with large ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Who benefits the most from prepaid expenses?

    Prepaid expenses benefit both businesses and individuals. Prepaid expenses are the types of expenses that are bought or paid ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. If I am looking to get an Investment Banking job. What education do employers prefer? ...

    If you are looking specifically for an investment banking position, an MBA may be marginally preferable over the CFA. The ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can I still pass the CFA Level I if I do poorly in the ethics section?

    You may still pass the Chartered Financial Analysis (CFA) Level I even if you fare poorly in the ethics section, but don't ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!