The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper empirically evaluates the validity of the term structure of interest rates in a low-interest-rate environment. Applying a time-series method to high-frequency Japanese data, the term-structure model is found to be useful for economic analysis only when interest rates are high. When interest rates are low, the usefulness of the model declines, since the interest spread contains little information that can be used for predicting future economic activity. The term-structure relationship is also weakened by the Bank of Japan's use of interest rate smoothing.