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Negative Gap


Negative Gap in finance refers to a situation where a company or financial institution’s interest-sensitive liabilities exceed its interest-sensitive assets in a specified period. This typically happens when liabilities’ maturity comes before the assets’. Negative gap might lead to reduced income or higher cost for an entity if interest rates rise.


The phonetics of the keyword: “Negative Gap” is:/nɛgətɪv gæp/

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition: A Negative Gap refers to a financial situation where a financial institution’s interest-bearing liabilities exceed its interest-bearing assets. It primarily deals with interest rate risk.
  2. Impact on Interest Income and Profitability: In an environment where interest rates are rising, a negative gap can lead to decreased interest income and lower profitability for the financial institution, as the cost of its liabilities increases more than the revenue from its assets.
  3. Management Strategy: Financial institutions can use a variety of strategies, including adjusting the balance and maturity of assets and liabilities, derivatives, and off-balance sheet financing, to manage and minimize the risks associated with a negative gap.


The concept of Negative Gap in business and finance is significant since it implies a disparity between the rate-sensitive liabilities and rate-sensitive assets in a firm’s balance sheet over a given period. If a financial institution has more rate-sensitive liabilities than assets, they will experience a negative gap, and this position can be a financial risk. This is because when interest rates rise, the proportionate increase in interest expenses outpaces the rise in interest income, thereby affecting an institution’s net interest income or margin. In essence, a negative gap signifies potential financial instability, making it a crucial element in business analysis and financial risk management.


The term ‘Negative Gap’ is routinely used in financial management, particularly in the field of interest rate risk evaluation. It primarily assists in managing and understanding variations in interest rates and how they influence various types of financial instruments. The major purpose of a negative gap is to estimate the potential impact of an adverse movement in interest rates on a company’s net interest income. In essence, the main purpose of the negative gap strategy is to ensure financial stability even during periods of interest rate fluctuations. Moreover, Negative Gap also serves as a crucial asset-liability management tool. Organizations aim to maintain a balance between their interest-sensitive assets and interest-sensitive liabilities. If the amount of interest-sensitive liabilities exceeds that of the assets for a specific period, a negative gap arises. This indicates that in case of a rise in interest rates, the organization’s expenses might increase more than its income, potentially bringing about a fall in net interest income. Hence, understanding Negative Gap helps financial institutions mitigate potential losses from fluctuating interest rates.


A negative gap in finance refers to a situation where a business or individual’s current financial obligations exceed their current income or asset’s value. This can arise due to various reasons, such as financial mismanagement, market changes, or unforeseen expenses. Here are three real-world examples of a negative gap: 1. Bank’s Interest Rate Risk: Suppose a bank’s liabilities (like the interest it must pay to customers for their deposits) are greater than its interest-earning assets (such as loans). This means the bank is facing more short-term liabilities than it has in short-term rate-sensitive assets; this situation is referred to as a negative gap. 2. Corporate Financial Management: A company could be in a negative gap situation if its current liabilities (like wages, rent, and short-term debts) exceed its current assets (like cash, inventory, and short-term investments). This might occur if a company has invested too heavily in long-term assets or if it has not managed its working capital effectively or faces unexpected expenses. 3. Personal Finance: An Individual could face a negative gap situation in their personal finances. Suppose their monthly expenses like mortgage, car loan payments, utility bills, etc., are greater than their monthly income. If they don’t have enough savings, they will face a liquidity problem, leading to increasing debts, making it a perfect example of a negative gap.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Negative Gap in finance?
A Negative Gap is a financial situation that occurs when a financial institution’s interest-bearing liabilities mature more quickly than its interest-earning assets. This can lead to a potential decrease in net interest income or an increase in interest expenses.
What causes a Negative Gap?
A Negative Gap can occur when the maturities for assets and liabilities are mismatched. If an institution’s short-term liabilities exceed its short-term assets, it could lead to a negative gap.
What effects can a Negative Gap have on an institution’s financial health?
The effect of a Negative Gap can be harmful to an institution’s financial health because it means that the institution would have to borrow funds at a potentially higher cost to meet its short-term liabilities. This could result in lower net interest income or increased interest expenses.
How can a Negative Gap be managed?
Many financial institutions manage their Negative Gap by closely monitoring and adjusting the maturities of their assets and liabilities. They might choose to invest in long-term assets or decrease the level of their short-term liabilities.
How can a Negative Gap affect the interest rate risk?
A Negative Gap can increase an institution’s interest rate risk. If interest rates rise, it can inflate the cost of borrowing needed to pay off short-term liabilities, potentially impacting the institution’s profitability.
What’s the opposite of a Negative Gap?
The opposite of a Negative Gap is a Positive Gap. This occurs when an institution’s interest-earning assets mature or reprice more quickly than its interest-bearing liabilities, which could potentially increase net interest income when interest rates rise.

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