Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


In finance, interest is a surcharge on the repayment of debt (borrowed money). The fact that lenders demand interest for loans in capitalist countries can be explained by one or more of the following:

Mathematically, interest generally falls in one of the following two categories:

In either case, the fraction by which the balances grow is called the interest rate.

Economists sometimes refer to interest as rent on money. As with any rental, the market price (or rate) is subject to change to reflect market conditions. Interest rates are very closely watched market indicators, and have a dramatic effect on finance and economics.

Interest involves the future, which is uncertain. Some interest bearing investments are riskier than others. The greater the risk of the security, the more interest investors expect to receive.

Different parties will be offered different rates on debt obligations (such as loans). The measure of credit worthiness of an individual is called a credit rating or credit score. Other entities (such as governments and companies) will acquire a bond rating if they are active in bond markets.

Table of contents
1 Equations
2 History
3 See also
4 Finding related topics
5 External link


Simple interest is seldom used in practice. In most cases this is because the interest earned in previous periods is assumed to remain in the account. Only when the interest earned is immediately withdrawn from the account should simple interest be used. When interest is not collected as it is accrued (as with a certificate of deposit, where the payment is in a lump sum), the interest increases the amount of money subject to interest. In this case simple interest would not reflect the opportunity cost that the lender experiences. With compound interest, the frequency of compounding influences the total amount of interest paid over the life of the loan. An interesting note from mathematics is that the formula for calculating continuously compounded interest utilizes e, an important mathematical constant and the base of the natural logarithm, which is defined as follows:

The formula used to calculate continuously compounded interest, however, is the principal of the loan P times the aforementioned e raised to the power of the product of the annual interest rate r, and the number of years of the loan t. This formula is usually written:

For interest compounded a certain number of times per year, such as monthly or quarterly, the formula is:

where P is the principal of the loan, r is the annual interest rate, n is the number of times per year the interest is compounded, and t is the number of years of the loan.


The collection of interest was forbidden by Christian and other religions under laws of usury. This is still the case with Islam which results in a special type of Islamic banking. Gesell researched the destabilizing effect of interest (an asset will increase beyond any limit over time) in his Freiwirtschaft theory, which includes negative interest rates.

Depending on the source, Albert Einstein referred to compound interest as the eighth's wonder of the world, the human race's greatest invention, or the most powerful force of the universe.

See also

Finding related topics

External link