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Metadata Glossary

Indicator NameReal interest rate (%)
Long definitionReal interest rate is the lending interest rate adjusted for inflation as measured by the GDP deflator. The terms and conditions attached to lending rates differ by country, however, limiting their comparability.
SourceInternational Monetary Fund, International Financial Statistics and data files using World Bank data on the GDP deflator.
TopicFinancial Sector: Interest rates
Statistical concept and methodologyMany interest rates coexist in an economy, reflecting competitive conditions, the terms governing loans and deposits, and differences in the position and status of creditors and debtors. In some economies interest rates are set by regulation or administrative fiat. In economies with imperfect markets, or where reported nominal rates are not indicative of effective rates, it may be difficult to obtain data on interest rates that reflect actual market transactions. Deposit and lending rates are collected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as representative interest rates offered by banks to resident customers. The terms and conditions attached to these rates differ by country, however, limiting their comparability. Real interest rates are calculated by adjusting nominal rates by an estimate of the inflation rate in the economy. A negative real interest rate indicates a loss in the purchasing power of the principal. The real interest rates are calculated as (i - P) / (1 + P), where i is the nominal lending interest rate and P is the inflation rate (as measured by the GDP deflator). In 2009 the IMF began publishing a new presentation of monetary statistics for countries that report data in accordance with its Monetary Financial Statistical Manual 2000. The presentation for countries that report data in accordance with its International Financial Statistics (IFS) remains the same.
Development relevanceThe banking system's assets include its net foreign assets and net domestic credit. Net domestic credit includes credit extended to the private sector and general government and credit extended to the nonfinancial public sector in the form of investments in short- and long-term government securities and loans to state enterprises; liabilities to the public and private sectors in the form of deposits with the banking system are netted out. Net domestic credit also includes credit to banking and nonbank financial institutions. Domestic credit is the main vehicle through which changes in the money supply are regulated, with central bank lending to the government often playing the most important role. The central bank can regulate lending to the private sector in several ways - for example, by adjusting the cost of the refinancing facilities it provides to banks, by changing market interest rates through open market operations, or by controlling the availability of credit through changes in the reserve requirements imposed on banks and ceilings on the credit provided by banks to the private sector. The real interest rate is used in various economic theories to explain such phenomena as the capital flight, business cycle and economic bubbles. When the real rate of interest is high, that is, demand for credit is high, then money will, all other things being equal, move from consumption to savings. Conversely, when the real rate of interest is low, demand will move from savings to investment and consumption.
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