Convexity of a Bond

Updated on April 4, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is the Convexity of a Bond?

Convexity of a Bond is a measure that shows the relationship between bond price and Bond yield, i.e., the change in the duration of the bond due to a change in the rate of interest, which helps a risk management tool to measure and manage the portfolio’s exposure to interest rate risk and risk of loss of expectation.


As we know, the bond price and the yield are inversely related, i.e., as yield increases, the price decreases. However, this relation is not a straight line but is a convex curve. Convexity measures the curvature in this relationship, i.e., how the duration changes with a change in yield of the bond.

The duration of a bond is the linear relationship between the bond price and interest rates, where, as interest rates increase, bond price decreases. Simply put, a higher duration implies that the bond price is more sensitive to rate changes. For a small and sudden change in bond, yield duration is a good measure of the sensitivity of the bond price. However, for larger changes in yield, the duration measure is not effective as the relationship is non-linear and is a curve. There are four different types of Duration measuresTypes Of Duration MeasuresDuration is a risk measure used by market participants to measure the interest rate sensitivity of a debt instrument, e.g. a Bond. It tells how sensitive is a bond with respect to the change in interest rates. This measure can be used for comparing the sensitivities of bonds with different maturities. There are three different ways to arrive duration measures, viz. Macaulay Duration, Modified Duration, and Effective more, namely Macaulay’s Duration, Modified DurationModified DurationModified Duration tells the investor how much the price of the bond will change given the change in its yield. To calculate it, the investor needs to calculate Macauley duration which is based on the timing of the cash more, Effective durationEffective DurationEffective Duration measures the duration of security with options embedded. It helps evaluate the price sensitivity and risk of hybrid securities (bonds and options) to a change in the benchmark yield curve. The modified duration can be called a yield more, and Key rate duration, which all measure how long it takes for the price of the bond to be paid off by the internal cash flows. What they differ is in how they treat the interest rate changes, embedded bond options, and bond redemption options. They, however, do not take into account the non-linear relationship between price and yield.

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Convexity measures the sensitivity of the bond’s duration to change its yield. Convexity is a good measure for bond price changes with greater fluctuations in the interest rates. Mathematically speaking, convexity is the second derivative of the formula for change in bond prices with a change in interest rates and a first derivative of the duration equation.


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Bond Convexity Formula

convexity bond formula

Calculation of Convexity Example

For a Bond of Face Value USD1,000 with a semi-annual coupon of 8.0% and a yield of 10% and 6 years to maturity and a present price of 911.37, the duration is 4.82 years, the modified duration is 4.59, and the calculation for Convexity would be:


Annual Convexity : Semi-Annual Convexity/ 4=  26.2643Semi Annual Convexity :  105.0573

In the above example, a convexity of 26.2643 can be used to predict the price change for a 1% change in yield would be:

If the only modified duration is used:

Change in price =   Modified Duration *Change in yield

Change in price for 1% increase in yield = ( – 4.59*1%) =  -4.59%  

So the price would decrease by 41.83

To accommodate the convex shape of the graph, the change in price formula changes to:

Change in price = [Modified Duration *Change in yield] +[1/2 * Convexity*(change in yield)2]

Change in price for 1% increase in yield = [-4.59*1 %] + [1/2 *26.2643* 1%] = -4.46%  

So the price would decrease by only 40.64 instead of 41.83

This shows how, for the same 1% increase in yield, the predicted price decrease changes if the only duration is used as against when the convexity of the price yield curve is also adjusted.

So the price at a 1% increase in yield as predicted by Modified duration is 869.54 and as predicted using modified durationModified DurationModified Duration tells the investor how much the price of the bond will change given the change in its yield. To calculate it, the investor needs to calculate Macauley duration which is based on the timing of the cash more and convexity of the bond is 870.74. This difference of 1.12 in the price change is due to the fact that the price yield curve is not linear as assumed by the duration formulaDuration FormulaThe duration formula measures a bond’s sensitivity to changes in the interest rate. It is calculated by dividing the sum product of discounted future cash inflow of the bond and a corresponding number of years by a sum of the discounted future cash more.

Convexity Approximation Formula

As seen in the convexity calculation can be quite tedious and long, especially if the bond is long term and has numerous cash flows. The formula for convexity approximation is as follows:

convexity approximation

Convexity and Risk Management

As can be seen from the formula, Convexity is a function of the bond price, YTM (Yield to maturity), Time to maturity, and the sum of the cash flows. The number of coupon flows (cash flows) change the duration and hence the convexity of the bond. The duration of a zero bond is equal to its time to maturity, but as there still exists a convex relationship between its price and yield, zero-coupon bonds have the highest convexity and its prices most sensitive to changes in yield.


In the above graph, Bond A is more convex than Bond B even though they both have the same duration, and hence Bond A is less affected by interest rate changes.

In the above graph, Bond A is more convex than Bond B even though they both have the same duration, and hence Bond A is less affected by interest rate changes.

Convexity is a risk management tool used to define how risky a bond is as more the convexity of the bond; more is its price sensitivity to interest rate movements. A bond with a higher convexity has a larger price change when the interest rate drops than a bond with lower convexity. Hence when two similar bonds are evaluated for investment with similar yield and duration, the one with higher convexity is preferred in stable or falling interest rate scenarios as price change is larger. In a falling interest rate scenario again, a higher convexity would be better as the price loss for an increase in interest rates would be smaller.

Positive and Negative Convexity

Convexity can be positive or negative. A bond has positive convexity if the yield and the duration of the bond increase or decrease together, i.e., they have a positive correlationPositive CorrelationPositive Correlation occurs when two variables display mirror movements, fluctuating in the same direction, and are positively related. In layman's terms, if one variable increases by 10%, the other variable grows by 10% as well, and vice more. The yield curve for this typically moves upward. This type is for a bond that does not have a call option or a prepayment option. Bonds have negative convexity when the yield increases, the duration decreases, i.e., there is a negative correlationNegative CorrelationA negative correlation is an effective relationship between two variables in which the values of the dependent and independent variables move in opposite directions. For example, when an independent variable increases, the dependent variable decreases, and vice more between yield and duration, and the yield curve moves downward. These are typically bonds with call optionsBonds With Call OptionsA callable bond is a fixed-rate bond in which the issuing company has the right to repay the face value of the security at a pre-agreed-upon value prior to the bond's maturity. This right is exercised when the market interest rate more, mortgage-backed securitiesMortgage-backed SecuritiesA mortgage-backed security (MBS) is a financial instrument backed by collateral in the form of a bundle of mortgage loans. The investors are benefitted from periodic payment encompassing a specific percentage of interest and principle. However, they also face several risks like default and prepayment more, and those bonds which have a repayment option. If the bond with prepayment or call optionCall OptionA call option is a financial contract that permits but does not obligate a buyer to purchase an underlying asset at a predetermined (strike) price within a specific period (expiration).read more has a premium to be paid for the early exit, then the convexity may turn positive.

The coupon payments and the periodicity of the payments of the bond contribute to the convexity of the bond. If there are more periodic coupon payments over the life of the bond, then the convexity is higher, making it more immune to interest rate risks as the periodic payments help in negating the effect of the change in the market interest rates. If there is a lump sum payment, then the convexity is the least, making it a more risky investment.

bond convexity

Convexity of a Bond Portfolio

For a bond portfolio, the convexity would measure the risk of all the bonds put together and is the weighted average of the individual bonds with no bonds or the market value of the bonds being used as weights.

Even though Convexity takes into account the non-linear shape of the price-yield curve and adjusts for the prediction for price change, there is still some error left as it is only the second derivative of the price-yield equation. To get a more accurate price for a change in yield, adding the next derivative would give a price much closer to the actual price of the bond. Today with sophisticated computer models predicting prices, convexity is more a measure of the risk of the bond or the bond portfolio. More convex the bond or the bond portfolio less risky; it is as the price change for a reduction in interest rates is less. So bonds, which are more convex, would have a lower yield as the market prices are lower risk.

Interest Rate Risk and Convexity

Risk measurement for a bond involves a number of risks. These include but are not limited to:

  1. Market risk that changes in the market interest rate in an unprofitable manner
  2. Prepayment riskPrepayment RiskPrepayment Risks refers to the risk of losing all the interest payments due on a mortgage loan or fixed income security due to early repayment of principal by the Borrower. This Risk is most relevant in Mortgage Borrowing which is normally obtained for longer periods of 15-30 more that is the bond is repaid earlier than the maturity date hence disrupting the cash flows
  3. Default riskDefault RiskDefault risk is a form of risk that measures the likelihood of not fulfilling obligations, such as principal or interest repayment, and is determined mathematically based on prior commitments, financial conditions, market conditions, liquidity position, and current obligations, among other more that is the bond issuer would not pay the interest or the principal amount.

The interest rate riskInterest Rate RiskThe risk of an asset's value changing due to interest rate volatility is known as interest rate risk. It either makes the security non-competitive or makes it more valuable. read more is a universal risk for all bondholdersBondholdersA bondholder is an investor who buys or holds a government or corporate more as all increase in interest rate would reduce the prices, and all decrease in interest rate would increase the price of the bond. This interest rate risk is measured by modified duration and is further refined by convexity. Convexity is a measure of systemic riskSystemic RiskSystemic risk is the probability or unquantified risk of an event that could trigger the downfall of an entire industry or an economy. It happens when capital borrowers like banks, big companies, and other financial institutions lose capital provider's trust like depositors, investors, and capital more as it measures the effect of change in the bond portfolio value with a larger change in the market interest rate while modified duration is enough to predict smaller changes in interest rates.

As mentioned earlier, convexity is positive for regular bonds, but for bonds with options like callable bondsCallable BondsA callable bond is a fixed-rate bond in which the issuing company has the right to repay the face value of the security at a pre-agreed-upon value prior to the bond's maturity. This right is exercised when the market interest rate more, mortgage-backed securities (which have prepayment option), the bonds have negative convexity at lower interest rates as the prepayment risk increases. For such bonds with negative convexity, prices do not increase significantly with a decrease in interest rates as cash flows change due to prepayment and early calls.

As the cash flow is more spread out, the convexity increases as the interest rate risk increases with more gaps in between the cash flows. So convexity as a measure is more useful if the coupons are more spread out and are of lesser value. If we have a zero-coupon bond and a portfolio of zero-coupon bonds, the convexity is as follows:

  1. The duration of the zero-coupon bond which is equal to its maturity (as there is only one cash flow) and hence its convexity is very high
  2. While the duration of the zero-coupon bondZero-coupon BondIn contrast to a typical coupon-bearing bond, a zero-coupon bond (also known as a Pure Discount Bond or Accrual Bond) is a bond that is issued at a discount to its par value and does not pay periodic interest. In other words, the annual implied interest payment is included into the face value of the bond, which is paid at maturity. As a result, this bond has only one return: the payment of the nominal value at more portfolio can be adjusted as to that of a single zero-coupon bond by varying the nominal and maturity value of the zero-coupon bonds within the portfolio. However, the convexity of this portfolio is higher than the single zero-coupon bond. This is because the cash flows of the bonds in the portfolio are more dispersed than that of a single zero-coupon bond.

Convexity of bonds with a put option is positive, while that of a bond with a call option is negative. This is because when a put option is in the moneyIn The MoneyThe term "in the money" refers to an option that, if exercised, will result in a profit. It varies depending on whether the option is a call or a put. A call option is "in the money" when the strike price of the underlying asset is less than the market price. A put option is "in the money" when the strike price of the underlying asset is more than the market more, then if the market goes down, you can put the bond, or if the market goes up, you preserve all the cash flows. This makes the convexity positive. However, for a bond with a call option, the issuer would call the bond if the market interest rate decreases, and if the market rate increases, the cash flow would be preserved. Due to the possible change in cash flows, the convexity of the bond is negative as interest rates decrease.

The measured convexity of the bond when there is no expected change in future cash flowsCash FlowsCash Flow is the amount of cash or cash equivalent generated & consumed by a Company over a given period. It proves to be a prerequisite for analyzing the business’s strength, profitability, & scope for betterment. read more called modified convexity. When there are changes expected in the future cash flows, the convexity that is measured is the effective convexity.


Convexity arises due to the shape of the price-yield curve. If the market yield graph were flat and all shifts in prices were parallel shifts, then the more convex the portfolio, the better it would perform, and there would be no place for arbitrage. However, as the yield graph is curved, for long-term bonds, the price yield curve is hump-shaped to accommodate for the lower convexity in the latter term.

Finally, convexity is a measure of the bond or the portfolio’s interest-rate sensitivity and should be used to evaluate investment based on the risk profileRisk ProfileA risk profile is a portrayal of the risk appetite of an investor. It is done by assessing an individual’s capacity, interest, and willingness to take and manage risks. Preparing it helps financial advisors to assist clients in making effective investment decisions. read more of the investor.

Reader Interactions


  1. Richard says

    Well done, thank you. Back to school for this Senior Citizen as I got through (barely) college calculus and understand discounted cash flow but this is certainly another level. If you were to recommend a “restart math” class at my community college what would it be?

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