Factors that Move the Interest Rates – Part 1:)

Interest rates

In earlier blog we have discussed about how Bonds are different than equities and why are they considered less risky instruments. 🙂

Now coming on to this blog, we would talk about the 3 major factors (other than monetary policy) which moves the interest rates  and ultimately causes a price change in the Bonds.

🙂

To determine where the interest rates are headed, it is important to have an understanding of the factors that move the interest rates.

This will in turn help gauge which direction bond prices are going to take, and one can make appropriate adjustments to a bond portfolio in order to maximize gains or minimize losses.

🙂

1. Inflation:

Interest rates are directly related to inflation i.e. if inflation rises, so do interest rates.

This is because lenders demand higher interest rates to compensate for the decrease in purchasing power of the money they will be repaid in the future.

This causes bond prices to fall, since bond prices are inversely related to interest rates.

Inflation itself is affected by the economy’s currency and liquidity position.

In India, inflation is measured by WPI (Wholesale Price Index), for which is released every week.

For the week ended July 25, 2009, WPI was at (-) 1.58%. This may lead one to assume that inflation has gone down, but the reason for this low figure is a high base effect from 2008, when WPI showed doubledigit growth.

Current CPI (Consumer Price Inflation) figures are in the range of 8.6-11.5% for May-June 2009.

🙂

2. Currency: A weaker rupee causes rising inflation, which in turn results in a rise in interest rates.

This is because one’s purchasing power reduces – if one was paying $60 or Rs.2400 (Rs.40=$1) to buy 1 barrel of crude oil, a weaker rupee (Rs.45=$1) means the same 1 barrel will now cost Rs.2700 i.e. Rs.300 more.

Similarly, a stronger rupee increases one’s purchasing power and brings down inflation, causing interest rates to fall.

The latter scenario is seen as a positive for the bond market, since it leads to rising bond prices.

Since 2008, the rupee has weakened significantly to Rs.47- 48 in July-August ’09.

😦

3. Liquidity: Interest rates are directly related to liquidity.

A crunch in liquidity means money is not readily available, since people are not willing to part with their cash.

A lower interest rate is then offered, which increases the price of already existing bonds in the market. The vice-versa also holds true.

One way of measuring the liquidity present in the system is to check the money supply measure – M3.

🙂

There is another factor which is responsible for the movement in interest rates that is Monetray Policy which we would discuss in next blog

🙂

To determine where the interest rates are headed, it is important to have an understanding of the factors that move the interest rates. This will in turn help gauge which direction bond prices are going to take, and one can make appropriate adjustments to a bond portfolio in order to maximize gains or minimize losses.

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