Preferred habitat theory: Preferred Habitat Theory Definition

slopes upward

Borrower structures what is best for their business – with input, analysis, and consultation with the lending team. The lending team does not create demand but responds to demand from clients. The bank’s clients are borrowers who may not have done the same analysis that we have but are nevertheless aware of the general pattern of interest rates and loan pricing. A 2-year bond would bring the lender a total return of 22% over the two years while a succession of two 1-year loans would only bring a 20% return. Investors will shift to the 2-year bond market and drive down the interest rate to 10%. Provide immediate benefits, while long-term investments involve current and future benefits trade-offs.

bond yields

Economic predictions can also be made when interest rates from different credit- rated securities diverges or converges. If the yield spread between corporate bonds and government bonds increases, then a recession is expected, so bondholders will sell riskier corporate bonds to buy safe Treasuries and other government bonds. If the economy is expanding, then the yield spread narrows, since an expanding economy indicates less risk for bond issuers, so bondholders sell safer, lower-yielding government bonds for higher-yielding corporate bonds. Note that this relationship must hold in general, for if the sequential 1-year bonds yielded more or less than the equivalent long-term bond, then bond buyers would buy either one or the other, and there would be no market for the lesser yielding alternative. For instance, suppose the 2-year bond paid only 4.5% with the expected interest rates remaining the same.


The theory states that if given enough compensation, borrowers and lenders may be willing to move outside of their preferred term length, i.e. leave their “preferred habitat. A bond’s market value at different times in its life can be calculated. When the yield curve is steep, the bond is predicted to have a large capital gain in the first years before falling in price later. When the yield curve is flat, the capital gain is predicted to be much less, and there is little variability in the bond’s total returns over time.

  • Note that this relationship must hold in general, for if the sequential 1-year bonds yielded more or less than the equivalent long-term bond, then bond buyers would buy either one or the other, and there would be no market for the lesser yielding alternative.
  • The inverted yield curve precedes recessions because the Federal Reserve increases interest rates to slow the economy, causing the inversion, usually to combat inflation.
  • For example, if an investor buys two similar bonds, one that matures in six years and another matures in 12 years.
  • Assessing strategies for controlling interest rate risk, since most strategies depend on the shape of the yield curve and how it changes.
  • People invest in junk bonds because they offer a higher interest rate as compensation for the additional default risk.

This theory also suggests that, if all else is equal, investors prefer to hold shorter-term bonds in place of longer-term bonds and that is the reason why yields on longer-term bonds should be higher than shorter-term bonds. The New York Federal Reserve recession prediction model uses the month average 10 year yield vs the month average 3 month bond equivalent yield to compute the term spread. Therefore, intra-day and daily inversions do not count as inversions unless they lead to an inversion on a monthly average basis.

Preferred habitat theory

This curve is unusual in that long-term rates are lower than short-term ones. Of the country, then the bond market, prices, and yield will definitely take a hit and change accordingly. ArbitrageArbitrage in finance means simultaneous purchasing and selling a security in different markets or other exchanges to generate risk-free profit from the security’s price difference. It involves exploiting market inefficiency to generate profits resulting in different prices to the point where no arbitrage opportunities are left. Calculate Risk PremiumRisk Premium, also known as Default Risk Premium, is the expected rate of return that the investors receive for their high-risk investment.

Some economists and pundits are calling the yield curve flat, but that belies the true shape and dismisses some of the confusion occurring with commercial lenders. The yield curve is not flat and understanding its shape explains some interesting commercial banking behavior. Additionally, investors will seek different maturities to their preferred ones, i.e., their usual habitat, if the expected extra returns are large enough for them. The only variation under PHT is that investors will seek different maturities to their preferred ones, i.e., their usual habitat, if the expected extra returns are large enough for them.


Life insurance companies prefer to invest in long-term bonds to match their long-term liabilities, while real estate companies prefer to issue long-term bonds due to their long project cycles. The local expectations theory is a narrower interpretation of the pure expectations’ theory, which asserts that the expected return will be the same over a short-term horizon starting today. This theory has been used to explain the observed patterns in bond market investing. It can also help to explain why certain types of bonds are more popular than others and why some bond market sectors are more active than others. Understanding this theory can give investors an insight into the bond market and how it works. It can also help investors make informed decisions about where to allocate their money.

Economic Indicators from Yield Curves

The hypothesis has been advanced to explain the 1st 2 characteristics and the premium liquidity theory have been advanced to explain the last characteristic. The market segmentation theory explains the yield curve in terms of supply and demand within the individual segments. This theory contends that the shape of the yield curve is determined by supply of and demand for securities within each maturity sector. It believes that the yield curve mirrors the investment policies of institutional investors who have different maturity preferences. If the yield curve slopes upward, investors do not expect any major changes in interest rates. Rates may go higher, but they may also remain the same, with the upward slope reflecting the risk premium.

Rather than think of each maturity (a ten-year bond, a five-year, etc.) as a separate marketplace, they began drawing a curve through all their yields. The bit nearest the present time became known as the short end—yields of bonds further out became, naturally, the long end. Economist Campbell Harvey’s 1986 dissertation showed that an inverted yield curve accurately forecasts U.S. recessions. An inverted curve has indicated a worsening economic situation in the future eight times since 1970.

  • In finance, the yield curve is a graph which depicts how the yields on debt instruments – such as bonds – vary as a function of their years remaining to maturity.
  • The yearly ‘total return’ from the bond is a) the sum of the coupon’s yield plus b) the capital gain from the changing valuation as it slides down the yield curve and c) any capital gain or loss from changing interest rates at that point in the yield curve.
  • According to the theory, forward rates exclusively represent expected future rates.
  • This theory implies that the yield curve is impacted only by the market expectation of future interest rates.
  • This theory posits that animals will tend to frequent areas with the most resources for their needs.
  • For example, an investor passionate about environmental issues may invest their money into renewable energy companies.

Adam received his master’s in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. According to this theory, to persuade lenders to lend for longer terms, borrowers need to pay a higher rate of interest as an incentive. The shape of the yield curve has two major theories, one of which has three variations. The significant difficulty in defining a yield curve therefore is to determine the function P.

People invest in junk bonds because they offer a higher interest rate as compensation for the additional default risk. There are a few different ways to think about it, but one important distinction is between short-term and long-term investment timeframes. For example, assets that are more suitable for short-term investors will tend to be priced higher than those more suitable for long-term investors. It is one of the most widely accepted theories in finance and is used by market participants to make investment decisions. The theory was developed by economistsFranco Modigliani and Richard Sutchin 1966 and is used to explain the observed price discrepancies between different types of securities.

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According to the theory, bond market investors prefer to invest in a specific part or ‘habitat’ of the term structure. The yield curve shows how yield changes with time to maturity — it is a graphical representation of the term structure of interest rates. The general pattern is that shorter maturities have lower interest rates than longer maturities. The yield of a bond depends on the price of the bond, which in turn, depends on the supply and demand for a particular bond issue. Over time, supply and demand for particular maturity groups changes unevenly, so the yield curve shifts in different ways to reflect these differences. In the preferred habitat theory, the investor prefers short term duration bonds as compared to long term duration bonds, in only the case where long-term bonds pay a risk premium, an investor will be willing to invest in the same.

The preferred habitat theory postulates that short-term bonds and on long-term bonds are not perfect substitutes, and investors have a preference for bonds of one maturity over another. Instead the markets for bonds of different maturities are partially segmented, with supply and demand factors that act somewhat independently. However, because investors can move between them and buy bonds outside of their preferred habitat, they are related. According to this theory, investors have a preference for short investment horizons and would rather not hold long term securities which would expose them to a higher degree of interest rate risk. To convince investors to purchase the long-term securities, issuers must offer a premium to compensate for the increased risk. Preferred Habitat Theory is an extension of the market segmentation theory, in that it posits that lenders and borrowers will seek different maturities other than their preferred or usual maturities if the yield differential is favorable enough to them.

rates to rise

The preferred habitat theory argues that investors will shift out of their preferred maturity sectors if they are given a sufficient high maturity premium. In contrast, the market segmentation theory asserts that investors will always stick to their preferred maturity sectors. According to the theory, forward rates exclusively represent expected future rates. Thus, the entire term structure at a given time reflects the market’s current expectations of the family of future short-term rates.

This theory is consistent with both the persistence of the normal yield curve shape and the tendency of the yield curve to shift up and down while retaining its shape. Therefore, investor preferences that favor short-term bonds over long-term bonds would give rise to the standard upward sloping yield curve, whereas investor preferences that favor long-term bonds over short-term bonds would give rise to the inverted yield curve. When the preferred habitat theory was first propagated, an upward sloping yield curve was the norm. Thus, the short term was known as the preferred habitat for bond market investors. Two common biased expectation theories are the liquidity preference theory and the preferred habitat theory. According to the expectations hypothesis, if future interest rates are expected to rise, then the yield curve slopes upward, with longer term bonds paying higher yields.

convenience yield commodity trading strategy curves are usually upward sloping, but short-term interest rates are as likely to fall as to rise. So, this prediction of the expectations theory is inconsistent with the real world evidence. The increased demand and decreased supply will push up the price for long-term bonds, leading to a decrease in long-term yield. Long-term interest rates will, therefore, be lower than short-term interest rates. The opposite of this phenomenon is theorized when current rates are low and investors expect that rates will increase in the long term.

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