Reference Rate

Definition of 'Reference Rate'


An interest rate benchmark upon which a floating-rate security or interest rate swap is based. The reference rate will be a moving index such as LIBOR, the prime rate or the rate on benchmark U.S. Treasuries.

Depending on the security or financial contract being written, the reference rate can be more esoteric, in the form of an inflation benchmark (such as the Consumer Price Index) or a measure of economic health (such as unemployment rates or corporate default rates).

Investopedia explains 'Reference Rate'


Reference rates are at the core of an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), where the borrower's interest rate will be the reference rate (usually LIBOR) plus a fixed amount, known as the spread. From the point of view of a lender, the reference rate is a guaranteed rate of borrowing, so at minimum the lender always earns the spread as profit.

If the reference rate makes a sudden move upward, borrowers who must pay floating interest rates will see their payments rise dramatically.

When used in an interest rate swap, the floating reference rate is exchanged by one party to the transaction for a fixed interest rate or set of payments.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. 80-10-10 Mortgage

    A mortgage transaction in which a first and second mortgage are simultaneously originated. The first position lien has an 80% loan-to-value ratio, the second position lien has a 10% loan-to-value ratio and the borrower makes a 10% down payment. 80-10-10 mortgage transactions are piggy-back mortgage transactions, and are frequently used by borrowers to avoid paying private mortgage insurance.
  2. Passive ETF

    One of two types of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) available for investors. Passive ETFs are index funds that track a specific benchmark, such as a SPDR. Unlike actively managed ETFs, passive ETFs are not managed by a fund manager on a daily basis.
  3. Walras' Law

    An economics law that suggests that the existence of excess supply in one market must be matched by excess demand in another market so that it balances out. So when examining a specific market, if all other markets are in equilibrium, Walras' Law asserts that the examined market is also in equilibrium.
  4. Market Segmentation

    A marketing term referring to the aggregating of prospective buyers into groups (segments) that have common needs and will respond similarly to a marketing action. Market segmentation enables companies to target different categories of consumers who perceive the full value of certain products and services differently from one another.
  5. Effective Annual Interest Rate

    An investment's annual rate of interest when compounding occurs more often than once a year. Calculated as the following:
  6. Debit Spread

    Two options with different market prices that an investor trades on the same underlying security. The higher priced option is purchased and the lower premium option is sold - both at the same time. The higher the debit spread, the greater the initial cash outflow the investor will incur on the transaction.
Trading Center