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Interest Rate: Definition, How it works in Economics, Factors, Types

Interest Rate: Definition, How it works in Economics, Factors, Types
By Arjun Arjun Remesh | Reviewed by Shivam Shivam Gaba | Updated on December 29, 2023

Interest rates provide important signals about the direction of the economy and future growth trends. Adjustments to rates by central banks (Reserve Bank of India) like lowering or raising the policy rate aim to influence borrowing behavior and overall economic activity. Businesses and households are more inclined to take out loans and increase spending when interest rates are low. By reducing the cost of credit, lower rates encourage consumption, investment, and domestic demand. However, higher rates have the reverse effect of restraining growth by making financing more expensive. Short-term interest rates set the base for other rates throughout the economy, so their movements provide early insights into economic momentum.

Beyond signaling policy shifts, interest rates serve as a leading indicator of changing macroeconomic conditions. Trends such as yields on government bonds of different maturities provide clues about market expectations of future growth and inflation. An upward sloping yield curve, for example, suggests confidence that lower future rates will boost activity. Conversely, an inverted curve forewarns recession risks. Sectors like housing, automobiles, and manufacturing are strongly influenced by rates. Tracking their direction highlights industries benefiting from accommodative policy or facing headwinds from tighter money.

Interest rates also impact asset prices as the discount rate used to value financial securities. Declining rates support higher valuations for stocks and property by lowering discount factors. Precisely because monetary policy acts with a lag, interest rates provide timely signals informing portfolio allocation to capitalize on anticipating the economic impacts of policy before they fully materialize. In summary, interest rates influence the entire economy and serve as an essential leading indicator for businesses, investors and policymakers.

What is the interest rate in simple terms?

Interest rates represent the cost of borrowing money, expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed. An interest rate is the phrase used to define the additional amount that a person or corporation borrowing money must return in addition to the principal. Interest rates are usually expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed. For instance, you would have to repay Rs. 110 (the original Rs. 100 + Rs. 10 in interest) if you borrowed Rs. 100 at a 10% interest rate. The higher the interest rate, the more it costs to borrow money. 

Interest rates are a key factor in the health of the stock market and broader economy. Borrowing money is less expensive and investing in stocks, bonds, and other assets is more alluring when interest rates are low. This leads to more economic activity, higher company profits and stock prices tend to rise. However, low interest rates also lead to excessive risk taking and bubbles in asset prices. The cost of borrowing money increases with high interest rates. Consumers and businesses cut back on spending and investment. Less economic activity means lower company earnings and stock prices tend to fall. However, high interest rates also mean people earn more on their savings accounts and CDs. This gives them more income to spend or invest. High rates also tend to prevent overheating and bubbles in the economy.

How does the interest rate work?

Interest rates work by raising the discount rate applied to future cash flows, which tends to lower stock values and increase the allure of fixed income assets such as bonds over equities. Interest rates are a foundational component of modern financial systems and profoundly influence economic activities and asset prices. The higher the interest rate, the greater the cost of borrowing.

Interest rates reflect the intersection of the supply and demand for loanable funds in credit markets. Many parties have a role in this dynamic. Banks and other financial institutions supply credit to consumers and businesses who demand loans to purchase homes, cars, machinery and more. The central bank regulates the money supply and influences interest rates through its monetary policy tools. Governments borrow heavily via bonds to finance public debt. Global capital flows across borders also impact interest rates. Interest rates often increase when there is a strong demand for credit relative to the supply, and the opposite is true when demand is low.

The time value of money is a core principle governing interest rates. A rupee today is worth more than a rupee in the future because it is invested to start earning interest immediately. The future rupee is thus discounted back to its present value at a given interest rate. The higher the interest rate, the more future cash flows are discounted. This shapes the valuation of stocks and bonds. For bonds, higher interest rates mean new bonds pay more interest, making existing bonds with lower rates less attractive, causing their prices to fall.

The opposite occurs when rates decline. Interest rates also form the discount rate used in valuing a stock via discounted cash flow analysis. Higher interest rates increase the discount rate, which lowers the present value of future dividends, decreasing stock valuations. This dynamic helps explain why stock prices often decline when interest rates rise.

What are factors that influence interest rate?

The key factors that influence interest rates relevant to the stock market are inflation, central bank monetary policy, economic growth, and credit risk.

1. Supply & demand

The law of supply and demand is one of the most fundamental concepts in economics. It refers to the interaction between the supply of money available to lend and the demand to borrow money. This dynamic determines the overall level of interest rates in an economy.  Interest rates hold major influence over share prices and investor behaviour. In comparison to bonds and savings accounts, equities become more alluring when interest rates are low. This drives up demand for equities, bidding up share prices. Conversely, high interest rates offer investors greater returns on fixed-income products like bonds. This pulls money out of the stock market as investors seek higher guaranteed yields.

Supply and demand factors directly impact interest rates relevant to the stock market. On the supply side, interest rates are heavily influenced by central bank policy. Central banks like the Federal Reserve manage the money supply and control short-term rates. The amount of money that banks lend is more expensive and more scarce as the Fed hikes interest rates. This reduces corporate access to credit for expansion and causes rates on bonds, loans and mortgages to rise across the economy. 

Higher borrowing costs mean companies face larger interest expenses. This cuts into profit margins and reduces earnings-per-share. Stock valuations fall as a result. Additionally, higher rates provide greater competition for stocks in terms of risk-free returns on fixed-income assets. Both factors drain money out of equities, sending stock prices lower.

On the demand side, the state of the overall economy is key. During strong economic growth, businesses seek to expand operations and therefore demand more loans. Consumers also borrow more for big purchases like homes and cars. This increased demand for credit pushes interest rates higher. However, it generally indicates bullish sentiment, more spending, and rising corporate profits – all positives for equities.  The inverse occurs in weak economies. Businesses scale back growth plans and consumers reduce spending. The demand for loans declines, allowing rates to fall. But the broader health of companies suffers, dragging down the stock market. Therefore, while demand-driven rate drops provide cheaper borrowing costs, they often reflect troubled markets.

2. Inflation

Inflation refers to the rate of increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy. As inflation rises, the purchasing power of a currency falls. This dynamic directly impacts interest rates and the stock market. Central banks closely monitor inflation to guide monetary policy. As the custodians of price stability and employment, central banks adjust interest rates to manage inflation. High inflation typically spurs interest rate hikes, while low inflation leads to rate cuts. 

For instance, excessive money chasing insufficient supply occurs when demand increases more quickly than supply. Excess demand causes prices to rise rapidly. To curb inflation, central banks restrict money supply by raising interest rates. This makes borrowing more expensive, cooling demand and slowing price increases. In the stock market, inflation and interest rates hold an inverse relationship with share prices. Rising inflation fans expectations of interest rate hikes.

This leads to higher discount rates being used in valuation models, resulting in lower present values for future corporate cash flows. Stock prices tend to fall as rates climb. Additionally, higher interest rates offer greater returns on low-risk fixed income assets like bonds. This provides greater competition for stocks, leading investors to migrate out of equities. Rising rates also increase borrowing costs for companies, eating into earnings. Both dynamics put downward pressure on stock prices.

Bonds and fixed-income assets pay set interest rates. But inflation erodes the real value of future coupon payments upon maturity. Investors demand higher yields at issuance to offset this loss of real returns. Companies refinancing debt must pay higher rates due to inflation. This cuts into earnings and depresses stock prices.

3. Government policy

Government policies enacted through legislation or central bank decisions significantly impact interest rates and the stock market. Fiscal policy, monetary policy, regulations, taxes and public spending all shape interest rate environments. The most direct lever is monetary policy conducted by central banks. Using tools like adjusting benchmark rates, bank reserve requirements, or asset purchases, central banks tighten or loosen monetary conditions. Lower rates incentivize borrowing and increase money supply. Higher rates discourage borrowing and drain liquidity from the system.

These actions directly influence the cost of capital for consumers and businesses.  Lending and economic activities pick up speed when interest rates are low. This encourages stock purchases and supports the rise of company profitability. However, excessively low rates for too long sparks high inflation. This eventually necessitates aggressive rate hikes, which negatively impact stocks. Balancing rate policy is crucial for healthy markets.

4. Taxes

Taxes refer to compulsory financial charges imposed by governments on income, consumption, properties and transactions. Tax regimes and rates significantly impact interest rates and capital flows within an economy. Taxation reduces disposable income for consumers and profitability for businesses. Higher taxes constrain spending power and earnings capacity. This reduces demand for lending, exerting downward pressure on interest rates.

Conversely, tax cuts boost disposable income and corporate profits. The heightened demand for money and capital lifts interest rates. Taxes also change the relative incentives between different asset classes like stocks, bonds and bank deposits. Interest income from bonds and deposits are fully taxed at ordinary income rates. However, capital gains and dividends from stocks held over one year are often taxed at lower long-term capital gains rates. Equities’ tax-favored status becomes more appealing when income tax rates are higher than capital gains rates.

This increases demand for stocks relative to interest-bearing securities, providing a boost to the stock market. An inverse relationship exists when capital gains rates exceed ordinary income rates. Furthermore, interest expenses are tax deductible for companies and consumers alike. Higher income tax rates increase the savings from deducting interest costs. This incentivizes borrowing at higher interest rate levels. So reductions in corporate or individual tax rates correspondingly reduce demand for debt financing and lower equilibrium interest rates over time.

On the supply side, differentiated tax treatment of debt versus equity changes companies’ preferences for funding sources. Interest payments reduce taxable corporate income, while dividends are paid from after-tax profits. Thus high corporate tax rates incentivize debt issuance over new equity. Greater bond supply raises the yields demanded by investors. Cutting corporate rates reduces this motivation, easing upward rate pressure.

5. Banks

Banks influence rates through adjusting their prime lending rates. This baseline rate is what banks extend credit to their most creditworthy customers. It factors in the federal funds rate, overhead costs, and a premium markup. The cost of credit increases for customers and companies applying for loans when banks raise their prime rates. Banks also control credit availability through their reserve requirements and capital adequacy ratios.

Higher reserves and capital buffers reduce the amount banks sometimes lend out. Constraining credit supply causes rates to rise across the economy. More relaxed requirements allow greater lending capacity, exerting downward rate pressure. Lending standards also matter. During robust economic growth, banks lower standards to expand credit. The increased loan supply dampens rates. But in troubled economies, banks tighten standards and issue less credit, pushing rates higher. Risk premiums also rise and fall based on banks’ default outlooks.

6. Economy

The overall state of the economy profoundly impacts interest rates through the demand and supply of capital as well as inflation expectations. Robust economic growth fuels demand for credit, pushing rates higher, while recessions see rates fall as demand declines. In healthy economies, businesses aggressively invest and expand operations to meet growing consumer demand. This increases corporate borrowing for things like opening new facilities, hiring more workers, or developing new products.

Strong labor markets and rising wages also encourage households to borrow more for large purchases like houses, cars, and other durable goods.  Rising demand for loans allows banks and creditors to charge higher interest rates, as plentiful investment opportunities exist within the economy. However, surging demand potentially overheats the economy and causes worrisome inflation.

This prompts central banks to raise rates to deliberately cool economic activity and contain price increases. Weak economic environments see businesses reduce capital expenditures and households limit spending. The demand for loans plunges as few profitable investments exist. To entice reluctant borrowers, banks slash interest rates to record lows. However, rock bottom rates rarely incentivize much new borrowing or spending, as pessimism reigns during recessions. 

7. Fiscal policy

Fiscal policy impacts interest rates through its effects on budget deficits, national debt levels, inflation expectations and capital flows between asset classes.  Expansionary fiscal policy like tax cuts or spending hikes aims to boost economic growth through putting more money in people’s pockets to spend. However, this simulative effect accelerates inflation if supply cannot keep up with surging demand. Inflationary pressures sometimes prompt central banks to raise interest rates to cool the economy.

Fiscal stimulus also expands budget deficits if tax cuts reduce revenues by more than additional spending raises them. Deficits require governments to issue more bonds to fund the shortfall, increasing sovereign bond supply to the market. Greater supply lowers bond prices and lifts their yields across the economy. Contractionary fiscal policy uses tax hikes or spending cuts to rein in demand and lower deficits. While moderating inflation and debt levels, this approach risks slowing economic growth if done excessively. Slower growth depresses interest rates as credit demand falls.

8. Monetary policy

Monetary policy refers to central bank actions aimed at controlling money supply, credit conditions, and interest rates. Four key tools include adjusting short-term interest rates, reserve requirements, asset purchases and currency interventions. Monetary policy impacts interest rates directly and through signaling effects. The most common lever is the central bank’s benchmark rate like the Fed Funds rate. Higher policy rates make it more expensive for banks to access money from the central bank. This pushes up rates on interbank lending, consumer loans, and business credit economy-wide. Lowering benchmark rates has the opposite effect of reducing borrowing costs.

Central banks also enact asset purchase programs called quantitative easing (QE). QE involves buying government bonds or other securities, putting more money into circulation and stimulating growth. This increased demand for bonds raises their prices and lowers yields. QE depresses interest rates across financial markets as all bonds get repriced relative to risk-free government debt. nBeyond direct rate impacts, monetary policy shifts influence expectations on future rate moves. More aggressive rate rises are likely to be priced in by markets if the Fed indicates a hawkish lean towards tighter policy. This results in higher interest rates as investors demand extra compensation for rising risks of rising rates ahead. 

9. Credit risk

Credit risk refers to the probability of default on debt obligations by borrowers. As perceptions of credit risk increase, lenders demand higher interest rates to compensate for the heightened chance of missed payments or outright defaults. The degree of credit risk in an economy significantly impacts interest rates. Lenders assess credit risk based on borrower profiles and conditions impacting their ability to repay debts. Four key factors include income levels, existing debt burdens, macroeconomic health, and collateral values. Adverse changes in these areas increase assumed credit risks.

As credit risks rise, lenders adjust interest rates higher on new loans to offset potential losses. The premium charged for heightened default risks is called the credit spread. Credit spreads expand when perceived risks increase during periods of economic weakness or uncertainty.

Interest rates hold tremendous influence over stock market performance and investor behavior. Tracking these core economic and policy drivers provides crucial insights into anticipating rate moves and their impacts on equities.

What causes interest rates to rise?

Interest rates rise mainly due to inflationary pressures, government borrowing, and monetary policy actions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). When inflation increases in India, the RBI will often raise interest rates in an effort to cool the economy and control rising prices. Higher interest rates make borrowing more expensive for consumers and businesses, which can dampen demand and slow economic growth.

The RBI also raises rates when the government runs high fiscal deficits and borrows heavily from the market, putting upward pressure on interest rates. To attract investors to buy government bonds, rates have to increase. Furthermore, the RBI uses interest rates as a monetary policy tool to control money supply and liquidity in the system. If credit growth and liquidity are rising too fast, the RBI will hike interest rates to tighten conditions. 

What causes interest rates to decrease?

Interest rates decrease in India mainly due to slowing economic growth, low inflation, fiscal consolidation efforts by the government, and monetary policy easing by the RBI. When economic growth starts slowing down, demand for credit goes down which allows the RBI to cut interest rates to boost growth. Also, if inflation is under control and within the RBI’s target range, it enables rate cuts to support the economy.

The government’s efforts to reduce fiscal deficit by cutting expenditures and improving tax revenues also reduces the borrowing requirement, taking pressure off interest rates. Less government borrowing brings down yields on bonds and enables rate cuts. In addition, if credit growth is slowing down and liquidity conditions are tight, the RBI will reduce interest rates to inject liquidity and stimulate borrowing and investment.

What are the different types of interest rate?

Nominal interest rates state the amount charged without factoring inflation, real rates adjust for inflation to reflect true costs, and effective rates account for compounding to show the annual percentage rate on loans or yields on savings.

1. Nominal interest rate

Nominal interest rates refer to the interest rate charged on loans or paid on deposits before factoring in inflation. The nominal interest rate, which is the rate of interest before adjusting for inflation, impacts stock prices because it affects the cost of capital for companies and the expected returns for stock investors. For corporations, the nominal interest rate determines the cost of issuing bonds and taking on new debt. Businesses are able to get less expensive financing to finance operations and new developments when nominal rates drop. This provides a boost to projected cash flows and future earnings potential, increasing the fundamental value of companies. In response, stock prices will often rise. Conversely, rising nominal rates increase debt servicing costs, hurting profitability and causing stock valuations to fall.

2. Real interest rate

The real interest rate, which is the nominal interest rate minus the inflation rate, affects stock prices because it represents the real cost of borrowing for companies and real returns for investors. In contrast to the nominal interest rate, which is simply the stated rate of interest, the real interest rate adjusts for the effects of inflation to reflect the true cost of borrowing and return on investment.  For companies, the real interest rate represents the actual cost of raising capital through debt financing. Businesses finance growth and investments more affordably as there is a decrease in the actual cost of borrowing, which occurs when the real interest rate is low. This increases profit margins, cash flows, and the overall fundamental value of companies. As a result, stock prices tend to rise when real interest rates fall.

As real interest rates rise, borrowing becomes more expensive in real terms, which reduces business earnings. Companies must spend more to service debts, leaving less income available for dividends and growth initiatives. Higher real rates also cause firms to scale back capital spending and new projects, slowing earnings growth. Consequently, rising real interest rates place downward pressure on stock valuations.

3. Effective interest rate

The effective interest rate, which is the real cost of borrowing money after accounting for compounding effects and fees, affects stock prices because it represents the true cost of capital for companies that must be factored into discounted cash flow models to determine underlying equity valuations. Unlike the nominal interest rate, the effective rate accounts for the compounding of interest over time and incorporates additional fees and costs associated with borrowing. This more accurately reflects a firm’s real cost of debt financing. 

Changes in effective interest rates directly impact companies’ bottom lines and cash flows. Declining effective rates facilitate easier access to fresh finance for projects and growth while lowering the real cost of repaying current debt. This bolsters corporate earnings and improves growth prospects. With lower capital costs flowing through to higher profits and cash flow, the fundamental value of companies rises, lifting stock prices.

The nominal interest rate is the simplest stated rate, the real and effective rates adjust for inflation and compounding to provide truer economic costs and returns. This helps consumers and investors make better informed financial decisions across products like loans, savings accounts, bonds and more.

How is the interest rate determined?

Interest rates are primarily determined by the actions and policies of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the nation’s central bank. The RBI manipulates various rates to fulfill its dual mandates of controlling inflation and ensuring sufficient money supply for economic growth. The rates set by the RBI form the base that commercial banks use to determine savings and lending rates offered to consumers. 

The RBI’s monetary policy committee (MPC) regularly reviews macroeconomic conditions and makes changes to the repo rate, which is the rate at which the RBI lends to banks. A lower repo rate makes capital cheaper for banks and enables them to reduce lending rates, spurring borrowing and economic activity. However, this also leads to greater money supply and inflationary pressures. Therefore, the RBI must balance stimulating growth through lower rates with controlling inflation through higher rates.

In addition to the repo rate, the RBI manages the reverse repo rate, cash reserve ratio (CRR), and statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) to regulate money supply and the cost of capital. Higher reverse repo rates, CRR, and SLR drain liquidity out of the system and push interest rates up by making funds more scarce and expensive for banks. The RBI calibrates these rates to maintain its inflation target range of 2-6%. Changes in interest rates set by the RBI flow through to impact the rates offered on bank deposits and loans. Banks raise interest rates on deposits in an effort to entice savers to deposit more money when the RBI raises rates. But they also charge higher lending rates to maintain profit margins. This makes borrowing costlier for individuals and businesses. The opposite occurs when the RBI cuts rates.

The level of interest rates profoundly impacts the stock market. Lower rates encourage borrowing for business expansion and economic growth. This generates higher corporate revenues and profits, boosting the broader market. Low rates also drive investors towards riskier equity investments to earn higher returns, spurring stock demand. 

How to calculate interest rate?

Interest is often calculated using two primary methods: compound interest and simple interest

The simple interest rate is the percentage of principal charged for borrowing or earned through lending over a set timeframe. It is calculated as the principal amount multiplied by the interest rate multiplied by the number of periods. 

For example, consider a 1-year Rs. 10,000 corporate bond with a 5% simple interest rate. The borrower pays as stated below.

Interest = Principal x Rate x Time

= Rs. 10,000 x 0.05 x 1 year 

= Rs. 500

At maturity, the company repays the Rs. 10,000 principal plus Rs. 500 interest. The simplicity of this method leads some individual and short-term loans to use simple interest.

However, simple interest lacks realism for longer horizons. It ignores compounding and assumes unchanging principal over time. This rarely aligns with multi-year financial transactions like mortgages, corporate bonds, and stock investments.

Compound interest computes interest on both the original principal and previously earned interest. Interest accrues on a growing base over the investment’s lifespan.

For example, consider a 3-year Rs. 10,000 bond with a 5% annual interest rate compounded yearly. 

Year 1:

Interest = Rs. 10,000 x 0.05 = Rs. 500

End of year 1 balance = Rs. 10,000 + Rs. 500 = Rs. 10,500

Year 2:

Interest = Rs. 10,500 x 0.05 = Rs. 525 

End of year 2 balance = Rs. 10,500 + Rs. 525 = Rs. 11,025

Year 3:

Interest = Rs. 11,025 x 0.05 = Rs. 551.25

End of year 3 balance = Rs. 11,025 + Rs. 551.25 = Rs. 11,576.25

The total interest earned is Rs. 500 + Rs. 525 + Rs. 551.25 = Rs. 1,576.25 – far greater than the Rs. 1,500 from simple interest.

Compound interest aligns with long-term investing and financing reality. It enables accurate valuation of cash flows and returns over multiple periods. This is essential for stock analysis.

Interest rates affect corporate profits and valuation. Lower rates reduce borrowing costs and increase earnings. Higher rates do the opposite. Compound rates best capture interest costs over time.

Interest rates also influence investors’ return requirements reflected in discount rates for valuation models. Compound rates appropriately account for the time value of money over long investment horizons. 

Bond yields often benchmark discount rates and stock returns. But simple yields misrepresent multi-period returns. Compound yields better proxy actual opportunity costs and returns.

What is a zero interest rate policy?

Zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) refers to monetary policy where a central bank sets its target short-term nominal interest rates at or close to zero. The goal is to help boost economic growth during periods of stagnation or recession. By making the cost of borrowing nearly free, a zero rate policy aims to incentivize lending and spending to stimulate aggregate demand.

The Reserve Bank of India and other major central banks pursued aggressive ZIRP in the years following the 2008 financial crisis in hopes of reviving growth as interest rate cuts lost effect. Rates were held near zero for over 6 years in the US and even longer in Japan and Europe. ZIRP is meant to function when an economy is gripped by exceptionally low growth, deflationary pressures, and the policy interest rate is already cut to its lower bound. Normal open market operations that alter short-term rates to affect money supply lose potency near the zero lower bound.

ZIRP helps provide further monetary policy easing when standard tools are exhausted. Under ZIRP, central banks target the overnight interbank lending rate to be zero or slightly above it. This drops short-term rates to zero across money markets critical for bank liquidity and lending. The goal is for the 0% short rate to then influence long-term rates like mortgages, corporate bonds, and interest-sensitive sectors.

To push rates near zero, central banks engage in massive quantitative easing asset purchases. This floods the system with liquidity to help suppress rates. They also provide forward guidance committing to keep rates very low for an extended period until economic conditions warrant a hike. 

For stock markets, ZIRP has four key effects. Near zero rates encourage investors to shift funds out of low-yielding fixed income into higher returning equities. This spurs a rally in stock prices. Companies also access cheaper debt financing to fund growth and boost profits. Lower capital costs result in higher corporate valuations.

What are some important terms related to interest rate?

Understanding important terms like the base rate, annual percentage rate (APR), annual equivalent rate (AER), annual percentage yield (APY), discount rate, and coupon rate provides insights into the drivers of stock prices through borrowing costs, returns, and investor behaviours. Analysing this interest rate terminology equips investors to make informed decisions in dynamic markets affected by shifting rates and yields.

  • Base Rate 

The base rate is the underlying interest rate commercial banks use to price lending products. In some countries, the central bank sets a target policy rate that forms the base rate used by banks to set consumer lending rates. Changes in the base rate influence the borrowing costs faced by individuals and businesses. 

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The APR represents the annualised cost of borrowing including interest and fees. It aims to capture the true cost of debt. APRs apply to mortgages, credit cards, car loans, and other lending agreements. 

  • Annual Equivalent Rate (AER) 

The AER shows the yearly effective interest rate on savings accounts and other interest-bearing deposit accounts. It enables easy comparison of returns across deposit products.

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

The APY captures the yearly return on deposit accounts including compound interest effects. It serves as a benchmark return rate for savers. 

  • Discount Rate 

The discount rate is used in discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis to calculate the present value of future earnings. It reflects the opportunity cost of capital based on expected investment returns.

  • Coupon Rate

The coupon rate is the annual interest payment on a bond as a percentage of the face value. It represents the contractual yield owed to bondholders. 

Tracking rates like the base rate, APR, AER, APY, discount rate, and coupon rate provides insights into the drivers of borrowing costs, asset returns, and investor behaviors affecting stock prices. Analyzing interest rate terminology is key to making informed equity investment decisions.

How does interest rate work as an economic indicator?

Interest rates work as an economic indicator by signaling the state of the economy and future economic trends. The RBI cutting interest rates indicates the economy is slowing down and needs a boost to encourage more borrowing and spending. Rate hikes imply the economy is heating up too fast and needs to be contained. The direction of interest rate changes by the central bank provides insight into economic growth and inflation outlook. 

Furthermore, interest rates impact different sectors differently. Rate cuts boost automobile sales, housing demand, capital investments etc as borrowing becomes cheaper. Rate hikes negatively impact rate-sensitive sectors. Therefore, tracking interest rate movements provide information on which sectors will benefit and which ones will suffer.

The yield curve formed by various short and long term interest rates indicate economic expectations. An inverted yield curve when short term rates are higher than long term ones signals that markets expect growth to slow down in the future. Overall, interest rates are a key indicator that provide valuable information on the current and expected future state of the economy and vital sectors. They help businesses and investors make decisions based on economic analysis signaled by interest rate trends.

Arjun Remesh

Head of Content

Arjun is a seasoned stock market content expert with over 7 years of experience in stock market, technical & fundamental analysis. Since 2020, he has been a key contributor to Strike platform. Arjun is an active stock market investor with his in-depth stock market analysis knowledge. Arjun is also an certified stock market researcher from Indiacharts, mentored by Rohit Srivastava.

Shivam Gaba

Reviewer of Content

Shivam is a stock market content expert with CFTe certification. He is been trading from last 8 years in indian stock market. He has a vast knowledge in technical analysis, financial market education, product management, risk assessment, derivatives trading & market Research. He won Zerodha 60-Day Challenge thrice in a row. He is being mentored by Rohit Srivastava, Indiacharts.

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