risk-free return

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Risk-Free Return

The return on any investment with such low risk that the risk is considered to not exist. A common example of a risk-free return is the return on a U.S. Treasury security. The risk-free return exists in order to compensate the investor for the temporary tying up of his/her capital, even though it is not put at risk. See also: Capital Allocation Line, riskless investment.

risk-free return

The annualized rate of return on a riskless investment. This is the rate against which other returns are measured. See also excess return.

Risk-free return.

When you buy a US Treasury bill that matures in 13 weeks, you're making a risk-free investment in the sense that there's virtually no chance of losing your principal (since the bill is backed by the US government) and no threat from inflation (since the term is so short).

Your yield, or the amount you earn on that investment, is described as risk-free return. By subtracting the risk-free return from the return on an investment that has the potential to lose value, you can figure out the risk premium, which is one measure of the risk of choosing an investment other than the 13-week bill.

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