August 16, 2012 An important channel in the transmission of monetary policy is the relationship between the short-term policy rate and long-term interest rates. Using a new term-structure model, the authors show that the variation in long-term interest rates over time consists of two components: one representing investor expectations of future policy rates, and another reflecting a term-structure risk premium that compensates investors for holding a risky asset. The time variation in the term-structure risk premium is countercyclical and largely determined by global macroeconomic conditions. As a result, long-term rates are pushed up during recessions and down during times of expansion. This is an important phenomenon that central banks need to take into account when using short-term rates as a policy tool.