Learn 100% online from anywhere in the world. Enroll today!

Negative Gap

A situation in which a bank’s interest-sensitive liabilities exceed its interest-sensitive assets

What is Negative Gap?

Negative gap is a term used to describe a situation in which a bank’s interest-sensitive liabilities exceed its interest-sensitive assets.

 

Negative Gap

 

Interest rate gap is important because it shows the risk of rate exposure and is often used by financial institutions to develop hedge positions. Institutions that profit from interest rate differentials pay close attention to the interest rate gap.

 

Summary

  • Negative gap is a term used to describe a situation in which a bank’s interest-sensitive liabilities exceed its interest-sensitive assets.
  • Negative gap is often associated with positive gap, which occurs when the bank’s assets exceed its liabilities.
  • An important formula to understand is the interest rate gap, which is the difference between interest-bearing assets and interest-bearing liabilities.

 

Effect of Interest Rates on Negative Gap

It is important to note that negative gap is affected by interest rates. If the interest rate declines, the liabilities will be repriced at the lower interest rate leading to an increase in income. If the interest rate increases, liabilities will be repriced at a higher interest rate, and income would consequently decrease since the bank must pay out more money.

 

Example of Negative Gap

For example, Bank ABC owns $50 million in assets and $90 million in liabilities, both of which are sensitive to interest rate fluctuations. Since the liabilities exceed the assets, Bank ABC shows a negative gap.

 

Effects of Negative Gap

Negative gap is not always harmful since a bank’s assets could generate sufficient income to cover the interest needed to be paid on its liabilities. However, it can signal that the bank is exposed to interest rate risk, and the size of the gap indicates to what degree a bank’s net income could change if interest rates change. If interest rates decline, the bank’s earnings from its interest-bearing assets will also decrease, but it will also pay less on its interest-bearing liabilities.

 

Understanding Gap Analysis

To better understand negative gap, it is important to first understand the concept behind gap analysis. Gap analysis is a process used to determine a bank’s interest-rate risk and evaluate the degree of its exposure to the risk. The gap itself refers to the gap between assets and liabilities of the bank, which is the profit.

 

Interest Rate Gap Formula

The formula to determine the interest rate gap is easy to understand – it is the difference between interest-bearing assets and interest-bearing liabilities.

 

Interest Rate Gap - Formula

 

Limitations of the Interest Rate Gap

One limitation of using the interest rate gap is that it fails to consider the fact that a negative gap may not exactly be “negative,” and therefore, it is detrimental to the financial institution. As the interest rates decrease, banks get less from the assets, but they also pay out less on their liabilities, thus evening out the gap more. As such, the institutions that are affected the most are those that hold a proportionally higher level of liabilities compared to assets.

 

Negative Gap vs. Positive Gap

Another concept related to negative gap is positive gap, which occurs when the bank’s assets exceed its liabilities. A positive gap means that when rates rise, a bank’s profits or revenues will likely rise.

 

Negative Gap and Asset Liability Management

Gap analysis is a method of asset-liability management and helps assess liquidity risk. The interest rate gap can be used to determine the profitability of investments. Asset-liability management focuses on the timing of cash flows and the availability of assets to pay the liabilities. One limitation of gap analysis, however, is that it cannot handle options since they have more variable cash flows.

 

Additional Resources

CFI is the official provider of the global Certified Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA)™ certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful:

  • Negative Interest Rates
  • Net Interest Rate Spread
  • Federal Funds Rate
  • Yield Gap

Financial Analyst Training

Get world-class financial training with CFI’s online certified financial analyst training program!

Gain the confidence you need to move up the ladder in a high powered corporate finance career path.

 

Learn financial modeling and valuation in Excel the easy way, with step-by-step training.