The Intricate Dance of Bonds and Interest Rates

Adrian J. Mayer
3 min readMar 17, 2023
Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash

The bond market, a crucial component of the global financial system, offers investors an opportunity to diversify their portfolios and mitigate risk. However, understanding the relationship between bond prices and interest rates can be a challenge for many. In this article, we will demystify this complex dynamic and explore why bond prices fall when interest rates rise, and vice versa.

I. The Basics of Bonds

Before we dive into the relationship between bond prices and interest rates, let’s briefly review the fundamentals of bonds. A bond is essentially a loan made by an investor to a borrower, typically a government or a corporation. The borrower issues a bond with a specific face value (also known as par value), interest rate (known as the coupon rate), and maturity date. The investor receives periodic interest payments throughout the life of the bond and gets the face value back when the bond matures.

II. The Inverse Relationship Between Bond Prices and Interest Rates

The relationship between bond prices and interest rates can be described as an inverse one. When interest rates increase, bond prices decrease, and when interest rates decrease, bond prices increase. This relationship can be attributed to a few key factors:

1. Opportunity Cost and Market Demand

Investors are always searching for the best possible return on their investments. When interest rates rise, newly issued bonds offer higher coupon rates than existing bonds, making them more attractive to investors. As a result, the demand for older bonds with lower coupon rates decreases, causing their prices to fall in order to remain competitive in the market. Conversely, when interest rates decline, older bonds with higher coupon rates become more attractive, leading to an increase in demand and a corresponding rise in bond prices.

2. Present Value and Discount Rates

The present value of a bond is the sum of its future cash flows, discounted to today’s dollars. The discount rate, which is tied to current interest rates, is used to calculate the present value. When interest rates rise, the discount rate increases, reducing the present value of a…

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Adrian J. Mayer

I hold 5 college degrees including a BBA in Finance, MBA, DBA, and post-doc in Applied Statistics. I work for a non-profit in Orlando, FL as a business analyst.