We use a macro-finance model, incorporating macroeconomic and financial factors, to study the term premium in the US bond market. Estimating the model using Bayesian techniques, we find that a single factor explains most of the variation in bond risk premiums. Furthermore, the model-implied risk premiums account for up to 40% of the variability of one- and two-year excess returns. Using the model to decompose yield spreads into an expectations and a term premium component, we find that, although this decomposition does not seem important to forecast economic activity, it is crucial to forecast inflation for most forecasting horizons. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.