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Interest Rates and Discount Bonds

We learn various notions of interest rates and some related contracts. Interest is the rent paid on a loan. A bond is the securitized form of a loan. There exist coupon paying bonds and zero-coupon bonds. The latter are also called discount bonds. Interest rates and bond prices depend on their maturity. The term structure is the function that maps the maturity to the corresponding interest rate or bond price. An important reference rate for many interest rate contracts is the LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate). Loans can be borrowed over future time intervals at rates that are agreed upon today. These rates are called forward or futures rates, depending on the type of the agreement. In an interest rate swap, counterparties exchange a stream of fixed-rate payments for a stream of floating-rate payments typically indexed to LIBOR. Duration and convexity are the basic tools for managing the interest rate risk inherent in a bond portfolio. We also review some of the most common market conventions that come along with interest rate market data.

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