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What is the definition of interest rates?

Relevant Topics

This question pertains to topics in Macroeconomics, such as Monetary Policy and Financial Economics.


The interest rate is the amount a lender charges for the use of assets expressed as a percentage of the principal. In other words, it is the cost of borrowing money or the return for lending money.

Detailed Explanation:

Interest rates are typically noted on an annual basis, known as the annual percentage rate (APR). The asset borrowed can be in the form of cash, large assets such as vehicle or building, or just consumer goods.

Interest rates affect the economy by influencing the cost of borrowing, the return on savings, investment decisions, and the valuation of assets. Central banks, like the Bank of England, often manipulate interest rates to achieve economic stability and growth - lower interest rates to stimulate the economy by encouraging borrowing and investment, and higher interest rates to slow down the economy to prevent it from overheating and causing inflation.


As of 2023, the Bank of England has set the base rate (the "official" interest rate in the UK) at 0.75%. This low-interest-rate environment is designed to stimulate the economy, making it cheaper for households and businesses to borrow and discouraging savings to promote spending.

Conversely, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates dramatically (to nearly 20% at one point) to combat rampant inflation.


To summarise, an interest rate is the cost of borrowing or the return on lending, expressed as a percentage of the principal amount. It serves as a crucial tool for central banks to manage economic growth and inflation. Understanding interest rates is essential to comprehend the financial dynamics of the economy, from individual loans to macroeconomic monetary policy.

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