The structure of the level of interest rates through various maturities.  Usually the shorter the maturity, the lower the interest rate.  Thus, 3-month Treasury bills usually yield less than 20-year government bonds.  The slope of the yield curve relates to the speed with which rates rise as the maturity increases.  In periods of tight money, short-term rates usually yield more than longer-term rates, and the curve is then said to be “inverted”.

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