Investors use rate of return to understand the earnings or losses on an investment in a specified period of time. This metric is crucial in determining the profitability of investment portfolios, and it is often used by fund managers to evaluate the performance of their investment strategies. However, the rate of return only provides a nominal value and does not account for inflation.

If it feels like your dollar doesn't go quite as far as it used to, you aren't imagining it. The reason is inflation, which describes the general increase in prices for goods and services over time. Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money, and it affects every aspect of the economy, including investments. Therefore, it is essential to consider inflation when calculating the rate of return on investments.

Real income is how much money an individual or entity makes after accounting for inflation and is sometimes called real wage when referring to labor income. Real income is a better measure of purchasing power because it takes into account changes in the cost of living. Similarly, the real rate of return on investments is the inflation-adjusted rate of return, which provides a more accurate representation of the actual returns earned.

The UK is currently seeing soaring inflation, with record drops in wages, and prices for goods and services skyrocketing, resulting in a decrease in the purchasing power of the pound. Therefore, it is crucial for investors in the UK to consider inflation when evaluating their investment portfolios.

Calculating the inflation-adjusted rate of return requires knowing the nominal rate of return, the inflation rate, and the time period of the investment. The formula for calculating the inflation-adjusted rate of return is:

Inflation-Adjusted Rate of Return = [(1 + Nominal Rate of Return) / (1 + Inflation Rate)] - 1

For example, suppose an investor earned a nominal rate of return of 10% on an investment that lasted for one year, and the inflation rate was 3%. In that case, the inflation-adjusted rate of return would be:

Inflation-Adjusted Rate of Return = [(1 + 0.10) / (1 + 0.03)] - 1 = 6.80%

The inflation-adjusted rate of return is the measure of return that takes into account the time period's inflation rate. The purpose of the inflation-adjusted rate of return is to provide a more accurate representation of the actual returns earned, which is essential for evaluating investment strategies.

With the rapid growth in funding ratios over the past year, an increasing number of UK defined benefit (DB) pension schemes have been investing in assets that provide protection against inflation. This strategy helps pension schemes to safeguard their members' benefit against inflation, which can erode the value of their pensions over time.

The time value of money concept is all about how money is worth more now than in the future because of its potential growth and earning power. Therefore, it is essential to account for the opportunity cost of investing in a particular asset. If an investment earns a nominal rate of return that is lower than the inflation rate, the investor is actually losing money in terms of purchasing power.

Ben Bernanke says that low interest rates are not a short-term aberration, but part of a long-term trend and explains the rationale behind the Federal Reserve's decision to keep interest rates low. Low interest rates can stimulate economic growth by encouraging borrowing and investment. However, low interest rates can also lead to inflation, which erodes the value of money and affects investments.

In conclusion, understanding the inflation-adjusted rate of return is crucial for evaluating the performance of investment portfolios. Inflation erodes the value of money over time, and it is essential to consider its impact on investments. By calculating the inflation-adjusted rate of return, investors can make informed decisions about their investment strategies and safeguard their investments against inflation.