Expectations Theory

Definition of 'Expectations Theory'


The hypothesis that long-term interest rates contain a prediction of future short-term interest rates. Expectations theory postulates that you would earn the same amount of interest by investing in a one-year bond today and rolling that investment into a new one-year bond a year later compared to buying a two-year bond today.

Investopedia explains 'Expectations Theory'


This theory is sometimes used to explain the yield curve but has proven inaccurate in practice as interest rates tend to remain flat when the yield curve is normal. In other words, expectations theory often overstates future short-term interest rates.

Another term-structure theory, preferred habitat theory, expands on expectations theory to explain why longer-term bonds tend to pay more interest than two shorter-term bonds that add up to the same maturity. It says that investors prefer short-term bonds and are only interested in longer-term bonds if they pay a risk premium. While expectations theory assumes that investors only care about yield, preferred habitat theory assumes they care about maturity as well as yield.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Passive ETF

    One of two types of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) available for investors. Passive ETFs are index funds that track a specific benchmark, such as a SPDR. Unlike actively managed ETFs, passive ETFs are not managed by a fund manager on a daily basis.
  2. Walras' Law

    An economics law that suggests that the existence of excess supply in one market must be matched by excess demand in another market so that it balances out. So when examining a specific market, if all other markets are in equilibrium, Walras' Law asserts that the examined market is also in equilibrium.
  3. Market Segmentation

    A marketing term referring to the aggregating of prospective buyers into groups (segments) that have common needs and will respond similarly to a marketing action. Market segmentation enables companies to target different categories of consumers who perceive the full value of certain products and services differently from one another.
  4. Effective Annual Interest Rate

    An investment's annual rate of interest when compounding occurs more often than once a year. Calculated as the following:
  5. Debit Spread

    Two options with different market prices that an investor trades on the same underlying security. The higher priced option is purchased and the lower premium option is sold - both at the same time. The higher the debit spread, the greater the initial cash outflow the investor will incur on the transaction.
  6. Odious Debt

    Money borrowed by one country from another country and then misappropriated by national rulers. A nation's debt becomes odious debt when government leaders use borrowed funds in ways that don't benefit or even oppress citizens. Some legal scholars argue that successor governments should not be held accountable for odious debt incurred by earlier regimes, but there is no consensus on how odious debt should actually be treated.
Trading Center