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Discount Margin (DM)


Discount Margin (DM) is a measure of a bond’s yield in addition to the credit, market and liquidity risk associated with the bond. It is essentially the expected average rate of return earned in addition to the current base lending rate of an assumed “risk-free” type of bond investment. DM is most often used in analysis of adjustable rate securities, particularly floating rate bonds.


Discount Margin (DM) in phonetics would be: Discount: /ˈdɪskaʊnt/ Margin: /ˈmɑːdʒɪn/ DM: /ˌdiː ˈɛm/

Key Takeaways

Discount Margin (DM) is a significant concept related to bonds and similar investments. Below are the three main takeaways about DM:

  1. Determining Yield: Discount margin is primarily used to calculate the expected yield of a floating or variable rate bond, or any another type of debt market instrument, over its lifetime till the reset date. The DM indicates the yield above the reference rate of this debt instrument, such as LIBOR or Treasury Bills.
  2. Role in Valuation: DM is not just a measure of yield but also a valuable tool for assessing bond prices. The DM allows traders and investors to compute the fair value of a bond in secondary markets, which is especially critical when the market prices depart from the face value. Thus, it provides a more precise measure than current yield or yield to maturity for floating rate bonds.
  3. Understanding Risk: Another essential role of the discount margin is helping investors understand the risk. Greater DM generally means larger risk and return. A wider discount margin signifies that the market demands a higher yield due to perceived credit risk, meaning the bond is considered riskier.


The Discount Margin (DM) is a critical financial term in the world of finance and investing. It has significant importance as it represents the average return over and above the reference rate, typically the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), that an investor expects to earn from a floating-rate security or bond if it is held until maturity. Such estimation is contingent on the income flows staying as predicted. The DM takes into account both the income from the bond and its potential price appreciation upon sale. Therefore, it serves as a comprehensive tool for investors to assess risk and return, ultimately helping them make informed investment decisions.


The Discount Margin (DM) serves an essential purpose in the realm of finance and business. Primarily, it’s a benchmark measure used by investors and analysts to evaluate the relative value of a floating-rate security, like a Floating Rate Note (FRN), in comparison to a risk-free rate. Conceptually, the Discount Margin represents the additional yield over the reference rate (generally the LIBOR or another risk-free rate) that the market demands as compensation for the likely risks associated with the security. By calculating the DM, investors can better understand the potential returns on an FRN and this information can guide them towards making strategic investment decisions.Moreover, the calculation of Discount Margin is also used as a critical tool in the pricing and trading of floating-rate securities. It factors in not only the current reference rate but also projections for how that rate might evolve over the tenure of the security. These projections can give the investor a view of the expected return over the full life of the FRN. When the investor considers selling the FRN, the DM can also help to quantify the security’s yield relative to the base rate at the time of sale. Thus, the Discount Margin aids in giving a well-rounded perspective of an investment in a floating-rate security, enabling investors to strategize effectively.


1. Corporate Bonds: A certain company is issuing a corporate bond for $1,000 with a 5% coupon rate. The yield is 6%, either due to the increased risk or low market interest rates. The Discount Margin would be the yield (6%) minus the coupon rate (5%), which equals a 1% Discount Margin. This margin represents the additional yield investors might earn if they invest in this bond instead of another one with the same coupon rate.2. Variable-Rate Loans: In the case of floating-rate or adjustable-rate loans, the discount margin is also used. For instance, if a bank issues a variable-rate mortgage with a base rate that is tied to the London Inter-bank Offered Rate (LIBOR), but the bank also adds an additional 1% on top of whatever LIBOR is, then that 1% can be considered the DM. 3. Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (CMOs): A CMO is a type of security (specifically, a type of mortgage-backed security) that separates mortgage pools into different maturity classes, called tranches. The discount margin of a specific tranche within a CMO would be how much the yield on that tranche exceeds a benchmark rate at which it was issued. For instance, if that tranche had a yield of 3% and the benchmark rate was 2% at the time, the discount margin for that tranche would be 1%.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Discount Margin (DM)?

Discount Margin is a financial term used primarily in the area of bond securitization, it’s a measure of the perceived risk associated with securities like floating rate notes (FRN) and collateralized mortgage obligations (CMO). It effectively represents the average expected return of a floating rate security assuming it is held until its reset time and not fully priced.

How is the Discount Margin (DM) calculated?

The Discount Margin is calculated using a complex formula that takes into account the present value of all future cash flows, the price of the bond, its maturity value, its reset period, and the current market interest rate.

Why is the Discount Margin (DM) important in finance?

The Discount Margin is important because it allows investors to compare the potential returns of a floating rate security with other securities. It also gives investors a better idea of the potential profit they might earn from purchasing such a bond.

What factors affect the Discount Margin?

The Discount Margin is affected by several factors, including market interest rates, the price of the bond, the time to maturity, and the riskiness of the underlying assets that make up the security.

Who uses the Discount Margin figure?

Discount Margin is commonly used by bond investors, risk managers, financial analysts, and portfolio managers who want to assess the potential return of a floating rate security and compare it with other investment opportunities.

Is a higher Discount Margin better?

A higher Discount Margin indicates a higher potential return, but it also represents a higher degree of perceived risk. Therefore, it is not necessarily better, it will depend on the investor’s risk tolerance.

What’s the difference between Discount Margin and Yield To Maturity?

Yield To Maturity (YTM) is a concept related to fixed-rate bonds, while Discount Margin pertains specifically to floating rate notes. YTM is the total return anticipated on a bond if it’s held until it matures, DM, on the other hand, is the expected return on a floating-rate security assuming it’s held until it resets.

Related Finance Terms

  • Yield To Maturity (YTM): Similar to Discount Margin, this term refers to the total return expected on a bond if it is held until maturity.
  • Floating Interest Rate: Discount Margin is commonly used when dealing in securities with a floating interest rate, such as adjustable-rate mortgages or corporate bonds.
  • Reset Margin: It is the spread over the Benchmark Index or Reference Rate that the interest rate on a floating rate note gets reset at every reset date.
  • Spread: The term represents the difference between the buy and sell price. In the context of Discount Margin, it refers to the difference between the yield of a bond and the yield of a treasury note with similar maturity.
  • Collateralized Mortgage Obligation (CMO): Discount Margin is frequently used when assessing the value of these types of securities. A CMO is a type of mortgage-backed security that creates separate pools of pass-through rates for different classes of bondholders.

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