# Real Rate of Return

## Definition

The real rate of return refers to the financial gains on an investment, adjusted for inflation. It represents the actual increase in the purchasing power of an investor’s assets, taking into account the decreasing value of money over time. Essentially, the real rate of return represents the true growth of an investment after accounting for inflation.

### Phonetic

The phonetic pronunciation for “Real Rate of Return” is:/ riːl reɪt əv rɪˈtɜrn /Real: /riːl/Rate: /reɪt/of: /əv/Return: /rɪˈtɜrn/

## Key Takeaways

1. The Real Rate of Return represents the actual percentage of profit or loss made on an investment after accounting for inflation. It provides a more accurate assessment of an investment’s growth over time compared to nominal returns.
2. It is important to measure your investments’ real rate of return to maintain or even grow the purchasing power of your capital over time. Not considering inflation can result in a misleading representation of your investment performance, as it neglects the impact of the decrease in purchasing power.
3. The Real Rate of Return can be calculated using the following formula: Real Rate of Return = (1 + Nominal Rate) / (1 + Inflation Rate) – 1. This formula helps investors compare investments across different periods and economic environments, allowing them to make better-informed decisions regarding their financial goals.

## Importance

The Real Rate of Return is an important business/finance term as it provides a clear insight into the actual growth of an investment, taking into consideration the external factors that affect the purchasing power, such as inflation. This key metric allows investors and financial analysts to better evaluate an investment’s performance by revealing its true value, as it eliminates the distortion caused by inflationary effects on the nominal rate of return. By understanding the real rate of return, investors can make better-informed decisions for diversifying their portfolio and optimize their investment strategies to ensure that their assets continue to grow in the long run, preserving and enhancing their purchasing power.

## Explanation

The Real Rate of Return is a vital measure that is used within the finance and investment realm to analyze the performance of investment assets while accounting for inflation. This metric essentially enables investors and financial analysts to understand the actual purchasing power gains that are derived once an investment has been made, giving them a more accurate picture of how effectively their capital has been allocated. By determining the real return on investment, the impacts of inflation on the nominal rate of return are negated, effectively providing a clear insight into the true value and profitability of an individual or organization’s financial undertaking. By factoring in the impacts of inflation on the yield, the Real Rate of Return serves as a critical tool for the decision-making process for individual and institutional investors, financial analysts, and fund managers. Investors can compare the real rates of return amongst different investments to ensure they are making sound choices that offer sustainable gains despite the ever-changing economic environment. Moreover, economically-sensitive sectors of a country can also observe and analyze real rates of return to direct government policies in an attempt to achieve balance and growth. By employing the real rate of return, investors are better equipped to understand potential trends and make long-term strategies that effectively navigate the turbulent waters of inflation, ensuring that both present and future purchasing power remains intact.

## Examples

The Real Rate of Return is the annual percentage return on an investment, adjusted for inflation, which reflects the true earning power of that investment over time. Here are three real-world examples illustrating the concept: 1. US Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS):TIPS are issued by the U.S. government and have principal and interest payments linked to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U). As the CPI-U increases, so do the principal and interest payments, effectively providing a real rate of return to investors that is adjusted for inflation. This ensures that the purchasing power of the investment is preserved over time. 2. An individual’s investment portfolio:Consider an investor who has a diverse portfolio consisting of stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. In a particular year, the total nominal return on this portfolio is 8 percent. If the inflation rate for that year is 2 percent, then the investor’s real rate of return would be approximately 6 percent [(1+0.08)/(1+0.02)-1]. This means that, after accounting for the effects of inflation, the investor’s real purchasing power has grown by 6 percent during that year. 3. Property Investment:Suppose an individual buys a rental property for \$200,000 and, after a year, the market value of the property appreciates to \$215,000, resulting in a nominal rate of return of 7.5 percent. If the inflation rate over the same period is 3 percent, the real rate of return would be approximately 4.37 percent [(1+0.075)/(1+0.03)-1]. This adjustment considers the diminished purchasing power due to inflation and more accurately represents the true increase in wealth experienced by the property owner.

What is the Real Rate of Return?
The Real Rate of Return is the annual percentage growth rate of an investment adjusted for inflation, reflecting the actual purchasing power of the investment over time. It is calculated by removing the effects of inflation from the Nominal Rate of Return.
How is the Real Rate of Return calculated?
The Real Rate of Return can be calculated using the Fisher equation:Real Rate of Return = [(1 + Nominal Rate) / (1 + Inflation Rate)] – 1 where Nominal Rate is the unadjusted rate of return and Inflation Rate is the percentage increase in the cost of goods and services.
Why is the Real Rate of Return important for investors?
The Real Rate of Return is important because it helps investors determine the true growth and value of their investments over time, accounting for the impact of inflation. This measure helps provide a more accurate assessment of investment performance and allows for comparisons between investments in different economies or time periods.
How does inflation impact the Real Rate of Return?
Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money, meaning that the same amount of money has less purchasing power in the future compared to today. As inflation increases, the Real Rate of Return decreases, while lower inflation leads to a higher Real Rate of Return. Investors typically seek investments that generate returns in excess of the rate of inflation to maintain their purchasing power.
Can the Real Rate of Return be negative?
Yes, the Real Rate of Return can be negative if the rate of inflation is higher than the Nominal Rate of Return on an investment. In such cases, the investor would experience a decline in their purchasing power as their investment’s value is not keeping up with inflation.
What are some examples of assets with higher Real Rates of Return?
Assets with higher Real Rates of Return include stocks, real estate, and some types of bonds. These assets typically provide returns that outpace inflation over the long term. However, investments with higher Real Rates of Return can also carry greater risks and short-term volatility.