Difference Between Nominal And Real Interest Rate

Difference Between Nominal And Real Interest Rate

The amount of money received by a lender or financial organization in exchange for lending money is referred to as interest. The interest rate is often represented as an APR. It may also be used to represent a share of stock. The overall interest on a borrowed amount is determined by the principal amount, the compounding frequency, and the term. 

The Rates Differ Depending on

  1. The government’s demands to the central bank
  2. The amount of collateral
  3. The currency
  4. The term
  5. Borrower’s default probability
  6. The market supply and demand
  7.  The minimum deposit that a borrower must have in a bank account
  8. Reserve requirements

Nominal VS Real Interest Rate - Which Differences | ShinyLoans

The Types

This is one of the most tricky aspects of the financial industry. Financial managers and investors are making financial decisions linked to their exact needs and risk profiles mainly based on interest. However, it should be underlined that risk management or data analysis cannot be done for sure for long-term investments, as the factor of inflation exists. This is the main focal factor why the financial institutions apply two types: the nominal interest rate (also called a “coupon rate”) and the real interest rate (also called “actual interest rate”).

Breakdown of  the Coupon Rate

The nominal interest is generally known as a rate of return that the borrower might get or, alternatively, pay without taking into account inflation. For instance, the interest of bank accounts, loans, or bonds are deemed to be nominal and no inflation affects them. Let's exemplify the case: you have $2500 in your bank account with an offer of 5 percent of the APR. At the end of the year, the bank will be obliged to pay back the lump sum of your deposit plus the 5 percent of annual interest.

Coupon rates are affected by a variety of variables, including the risk, the supply and demand cycle, and other factors affecting the money market and the bank itself. 

About The Actual Interest Rate

The actual interest indicates the true cost of borrowing and the actual profit on an investment. It is the lender's gain in buying power when the customer repays the loan. If inflation exceeds the coupon rate, real interest may be negative. In this case, investors lose buying power and may consider alternative options. 

The understanding of the coupon rate is nearly a simple conception. However, the calculation of the real interest may be much more difficult, when we are starting to deal with price level rise. The nominal rate of interest minus inflation is the real calculation.

 For instance, if you have a deposit with the bank for $1000 with a coupon rate of 5 percent per annum, you will not be paid exactly 5 percent of the deposited amount at the end of the year. Why? The main reason is regarded to be inflation, let’s fix it 3 percent. Consequently, against your deposit of $1000, you will be paid $20. By way of explanation, the actual interest equals the coupon rate plus the annual inflation. 

Fisher Equation Formula

The Fisher equation is a formula that describes the relationship called “real vs nominal”. The equation is named after Irving Fisher, an American economist. According to the equation, the coupon rate is equal to the sum of the actual rate plus inflation. 

The Fisher equation is represented by the following formula:

(1 + i)  = (1 + r) (1 + π)

i – the nominal rate of interest

r – the real rate of interest

π – the inflation 

Here is the approximate version of the formula:

i ≈ r + π

Thus, the nominal vs real interest rate formula will be the following

real ≈ nominal − inflation.

What is Inflation?

Inflation is the gradual loss of buying power of a particular currency. Prices for products and services can always alter in the market. Some prices climb, while others decline. It happens when there is a general increase in the pricing of products and services. As a result, you can purchase less for $100 today than you did yesterday.

In America, the term "inflation" first originated in the mid-nineteenth century, "as something that happens to paper currency." Agencies use statistics that may be used to compare how price relatives fluctuate between time periods or geographical areas. The statistics are called “a price index”. A price index is a measure of the general price level in comparison to a certain base year.

A vast variety of price indexes have been devised to track changes in various areas of an economy. Thus, price indices are classified into numerous types:

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI) analyses the weighted average of prices for a basket of consumer goods and services.
  • Producer Price Index (PPI) monitors average changes in prices received by domestic producers for their output.
  • Index of wholesale prices is a price index that monitors and tracks changes in the price of products before they reach the retail level.
  • Index of Employment Costs gauges the change in overall employee compensation.
  • Index of export prices is an index generated for the price(s) of one or more commodities that enter international trade.
  • Index of import prices assesses variations in the pricing of goods imported into a country.

Inflation is normally low during a normal period of economic expansion. If it has dropped to zero percent, it indicates that there is tremendous pricing pressure to promote spending and that the recovery is very unstable. That is why most economists presently advocate for a low and consistent pace of price level increase. Low inflation lessens the severity of economic recessions by allowing the labor market to react more rapidly during a crisis. Central banks usually regulate monetary policy by conducting open market operations and modifying commercial bank reserve requirements.

What is a Purchasing Power?

The quantity of products and services that may be acquired with a unit of cash is referred to as purchasing power. If one's income remains constant while the price level rises, the purchasing power of that income decreases. A greater real income indicates more purchasing power since real income is income adjusted for inflation. Purchasing power is also known as the buying power of a currency. In the classic economic sense, buying power is measured by comparing the price of an item or service to a price index such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Nominal vs Real Interest Rate

These concepts provide an opportunity to understand what the customer may expect to earn from his/her investment and, alternatively, pay in case of loans. Here are illustrated the focal disparities between nominal and real rates:

  1. The major difference between nominal and real interest rate is that the actual interest has been modified to eliminate the impacts of price level rise in order to represent the borrower's true cost of capital and the lender's or investor's real yield. The nominal is the interest before inflation is factored in.
  2. The coupon rate is considered to be the exact return that customers are obliged to pay or earn based on the exact cases. Meanwhile, the actual interest comprises the phenomenon of annual inflation.
  3. The annual inflation has no effect on coupon rates, whereas, the calculation of the real rate includes the removal of the inflation influence.
  4. Actual interests are emanated from the nominal rate.
  5. In the case of real rates the issue of “time value of money” plays a great role.
  6. The lowest limit for the nominal might be 0%, whereas the actual can even be negative due to high prices. For example, if the coupon rate is 2% and the inflation rate is 3%, the investor may lose the amount equivalent to 1%.

Use a Calculator

If you want to know how changes in the price level impact the real value of the interest you receive or pay, an online calculator can assist you in computing and comprehending the idea. The Calculator will determine actual rates on loans with set periods and monthly payments in a few simple steps.


If you're trying to find solutions to minimize your debt, you should understand the difference between real and nominal rates. The real is an inflation-adjusted interest that is an essential tool for investors. The nominal is the interest at which the lender provides you money for your loan. The distinction between the two must be recognized in order to select the appropriate bank and time to request big loans for better financing.

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