What is Real Risk- Free Rate ?
The real risk-free rate (RRFR) is the basic interest rate, assuming no inflation and no uncertainty about future flows. An investor in an inflation-free economy who knew with certainty what cash flows he or she would receive at what time would demand the RRFR on an investment. Earlier, we called this the pure time value of money, because the only sacrifice the investor made was deferring the use of the money for a period of time. This RRFR of interest is the price charged for the exchange between current goods and future goods.
Two factors, one subjective and one objective, influence this exchange price. The subjective factor is the time preference of individuals for the consumption of income. When individuals give up $100 of consumption this year, how much consumption do they want a year from now to compensate for that sacrifice? The strength of the human desire for current consumption influences the rate of compensation required. Time preferences vary among individuals, and the market creates a composite rate that includes the preferences of all investors. This composite rate changes gradually over time because it is influenced by all the investors in the economy, whose changes in preferences may offset one another.
The objective factor that influences the RRFR is the set of investment opportunities available in the economy. The investment opportunities are determined in turn by the long-run real growth rate of the economy. A rapidly growing economy produces more and better opportunities to invest funds and experience positive rates of return. A change in the economy’s long-run real growth rate causes a change in all investment opportunities and a change in the required rates of return on all investments. Just as investors supplying capital should demand a higher rate of return when growth is higher, those looking for funds to invest should be willing and able to pay a higher rate of return to use the funds for investment because of the higher growth rate. Thus, a positive relationship exists between the real growth rate in the economy and the RRFR.