Parallel Shift

Updated on April 1, 2024
Article byPriya Choubey
Edited byPriya Choubey
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Parallel Shift?

Parallel Shift refers to an economic condition when the interest or yield of bonds or Treasury bills with different maturities fluctuates at the same pace or rate. The yield curve shows a synchronized upward or downward movement, leaving the swap spreads of the bonds with different maturities likely unaffected.

Parallel Shift

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Such a change often occurs due to variations in economic conditions, interest rates, inflation, or geopolitical affairs. The parallel shift in the yield curve helps investors anticipate the changing market expectations of the bonds’ returns in the long run and, therefore, adjust their portfolio accordingly to generate equivalent returns to those of the current yield curve

Key Takeaways

  • A parallel shift is a movement in the yield curve such that the interest rates across the different term structures of fixed-income security remain constant.
  • It can be either upwards or downwards, while it doesn’t affect the bond’s swap spreads for different maturities. Also, the shape of the yield curve remains the same in such an interest rate shift.
  • It is different from a non-parallel shift that results in altering the yield curve’s shape into a positive or negative butterfly or forming a twisted yield curve that is steeper or flatter than the previous one.

How Does Parallel Shift In Yield Curve Work?

A parallel shift in the yield curve denotes that the interest rates of fixed-income securities like bonds or Treasury (T) bills with varying maturities will change by the equivalent basis points at a given time. The yield movement of bonds of various maturities can be steepening, flattening, or parallel. The identification of parallel shifts in the yield shift helps mitigate interest rate risk

Given below are some of the critical aspects of parallel shifting in the interest rates of fixed-income securities:

  • The whole yield curve, formed of various yield points across the different term structures, shifts upwards or downwards.
  • The shift doesn’t lead to a change in the shape of the yield curve.
  • It does not influence the swap spread of the bonds or T-bills across different maturities in the yield curve.

Although, in the real-world scenario, it is difficult to have a parallel movement, a non-parallel shift is more evident instead. This is because market sentiments and economic fluctuations result in inconsistent variations in interest rates and bond prices. Additionally, economic conditions and the environment affect yield curves for various bond maturities in either positive or negative ways.


Let us now understand the concept of parallel shift through the following examples:

Example #1

Suppose a government bond with different maturities, i.e., 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, and 30 years, are expected to rise by 1.2%. That accounts for a parallel movement of 120 basis points in the overall yield curve across different term structures. Given below is a graph that depicts the parallel shift in the yield curve:

Parallel Shift Graph

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In the above graph, the area between the original and the new yield curves is the parallel shift since the whole yield curve has moved upwards, reflecting a positive movement in the bond interest rates by 120 basis points.

Example #2

Another example will be a Treasury bill. Say, in a nation, the central bank decreases the overall yield of the treasury bills with different term structures, say, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years, by 75 basis points or 0.75%. Then, the overall yield curve parallelly shifts downwards. Then, after 6 months, the central bank raised the overall interest rate on T-bills by 0.3% or 30 basis points; the yield curve will then shift upwards, being parallel to the previous yield curve.

Example #3

A report published on October 2, 2023, emphasizes a study that explored three rate outcomes: rising, unchanged, and falling, with price impact equal to effective duration. It was assumed that all yields increase or decrease by 100 basis points, resulting in a price impact equal to the effective duration.

The study advocated and noted three possible scenarios that could occur over the coming year. The one focused on the impact of stable rates on short and long-duration bonds, the other emphasized the effect when the rates rise by 100 basis points, and the third one indicated the expected impact of rates falling by 100 basis points.

Given the volume of assets flowing into intermediate-term bond strategies, the majority of investors are expecting the third scenario to occur, with rates falling. However, this is predicated on a parallel shift in the yield curve, with all rates moving at the same time. That is not likely to occur.

After studying various scenarios, the best course of action for investors is to spread out their excess cash and benefit from high fixed-income yields. Nonetheless, a lot of people invest in intermediate-term core bond strategies because it’s widely believed that fixed income with longer maturities will perform better.


The yield curve of fixed-income securities holds interest rate risk since the yield of such instruments is inversely related to its market price. The parallel shift holds significance for the investors:

  • Mitigates Yield-Curve Risk: Understanding interest rate changes across fixed-income securities helps investors anticipate and hedge against associated interest rate risk.
  • Facilitates Interest Rate Swaps: The investors can lock the current yield curve by employing swapping strategies like the interest rate swap, which protects them when the interest falls.
  • Portfolio Allocation: The yield curve analysis aids investors in diversifying their fixed-income portfolio strategically to manage risk and optimize returns.
  • Impacts Bond Market Dynamics: The bond’s interest rate fluctuation inversely affects its pricing in the bond market, thus making it look more or less attractive to investors.
  • Frames Investment Strategies: By identifying parallel movement in the yield curve, investors can adjust portfolio duration to match current yields.
  • Indicates Macroeconomic Conditions: Yield curve movements reflect market conditions, inflation signals, and economic changes.
  • Derivatives Pricing: The expected yield curve shifts determine interest rates and derivative prices, such as swaps and options.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is parallel shifting possible?

In real-world situations, where the market dynamics determine the prices of fixed-income securities and their interest rates, the parallel shift in the yield curve is somewhat unreal, however, in the scenario of normal yield curves, which trend upwards, signifying a higher interest for bonds with long-term maturities.

What is a parallel shift of the demand curve?

The demand curve shifts parallel to the right when demand increases, that is when demand for goods increases as a result of changes in factors other than price. Conversely, when demand falls, the demand curve moves to the left.

What is the difference between parallel and non-parallel shifts?

The parallel shift in the yield curve reflects a consistent change in interest rates of the fixed-income securities with varying term structures.

Meanwhile, a non-parallel shift refers to the uneven fluctuation in the interest rates of the bonds with different maturities. It can be a yield curve twist, I.e., a steeper or flatter curve, or a positive or negative yield curve whereby the curvature changes, with being less or more hump-shaped, respectively.

This article has been a guide to what is Parallel Shift. Here, we explain the concept in detail, along with some examples and importance. You may also find some useful articles here –

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