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Referential Rate (TR): what it is, how it works and what is the value

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When we talk about the financial and real estate sectors in Brazil, there are many indicators that influence our daily lives: INCC, CDI, IP C A, and many others. Among all of them, the Referential Rate is perhaps the most present in Brazilians’ lives.

This is because it influences the calculation of savings (the most popular investment in Brazil), the FGTS and even some real estate financing. Therefore, it is possible to see that many people live with the effects of RT, right?

Still, not everyone knows what the Referential Rate means, how it works and what its value is today. And you need to get to know it so that it doesn’t go unnoticed and influence the world around you without your noticing.

So how about finding out more about her? Read on and discover everything you need to know about Referential Rate (TR)!

What is TR and how does it work?

To talk about what the Referential Rate is, it is worth going back to the year it was created: 1991. At that time, the country’s president was Fernando Collor de Mello and there was a serious problem with hyperinflation.

The situation was so complex that inflation surpassed 2400% in a short period of time. Thus, workers’ wages and prices in commerce underwent major adjustments every day, further aggravating the reality.

In an attempt to control the difficulties, the Plano Collor II was launched, with the aim of fighting inflation and de-indexing. The definition of the Referential Rate was among the measures of the plan as an instrument of monetary correction.

The TR still exists today, but its objectives have changed a lot, after all, the Brazilian reality is no longer that of the early 1990s.

The rate can be presented in daily and monthly variations. The daily TR is calculated and published by the Central Bank, corresponding to the slices of the monthly rate. Every 23 days, a period considered as a full month, it focuses on income from investments or products linked to the index, such as financing.

What is it for?

In the brief retrospective we did, you saw that the context in which the TR was created was the need to control the hyperinflation that the country was going through. At the time, there was an indexation of the value of money in relation to the IPCA – Brazil’s official inflation index.

This characteristic created many challenges in the face of such exorbitant inflation rates. Therefore, deindexation was part of the government’s plan. The Referential Rate, therefore, was created to replace the corrections that were made according to the IPCA (Extended Consumer Price Index).

The calculation of the TR was the responsibility of the Central Bank of Brazil and there was the expectation that this change would help control fluctuations in the money. However, that is not what happened. The situation only underwent significant improvements like the Real Plan, in 1994.

After the government of Itamar Franco, the TR was no longer used as an indicator linked to inflation. This time, it was replaced by the Selic Rate – which maintains its central importance to this day as an economic policy mechanism.

So, if the Selic currently fulfills the role of trying to control inflation, what is the TR for? In fact, it lost much of its importance over the years and, nowadays, the TR is an additional indicator of interest (generally, following the movements of the Selic itself).

The fact is that the Referential Rate continues to be used to calculate the yields of some financial investments. This is the case of savings accounts, capitalization bonds and the FGTS (Guarantee Fund for Employees), in addition to some real estate financing.

What is the relationship between TR and investments?

Since TR’s main function in recent years has been to participate in the profitability of investments and financing, it is worth knowing a little more about the subject. First, it is important to note that she practically never appears alone.

Generally speaking, TR is one of the indicators that make up the earnings policy of a given financial product. As its values ​​are usually low, it is always accompanied by other indicators or fixed rates.

See below for more details on the main investments that yield according to the TR.

Savings

The savings account is the most popular application in Brazil, probably due to its ease of use on a daily basis. After all, all you have to do is open an account at a bank and move the amounts through deposits, transfers, debit cards, etc.

However, in terms of profitability, it is common to hear that saving is not the best investment. In fact, in past decades, saving had more interesting results. However, some changes in the form of income and in the TR itself over time diminished its attractiveness.

Until 2012, savings yielded at a fixed rate of 0.5% per month + TR. After that year, there were two profitability rules:

  • if the Selic rate is above 8.5% per year, savings yield 0.5% per month + TR – keeping the traditional logic;
  • if the Selic rate is equal to or less than 8.5% per year, the yield will correspond to 70% of the Selic + TR.

TR profitability rules.

As you can see, TR works as an increase in the profitability of the savings account.

FGTS

The FGTS is not exactly an investment. It is not done autonomously, but it is a labor right for everyone who works under the CLT regime. Professionals with a formal contract, therefore, have this kind of mandatory savings.

Employer companies must deposit a percentage of the salary in the worker’s FGTS account. Money can only be redeemed in some specific situations, such as in the case of a layoff.

As long as the redemption is not authorized or carried out, the amount remains in the account. Profitability is defined by the Government and refers to a fixed rate – currently, 3% per year + TR.

As money yields at low interest rates, as well as savings, the FGTS usually tends to lose value to inflation, as the IPCA is usually higher than the fund’s yield.

Capitalization titles

Capitalization bonds are financial products offered by banks and are among the only ones that use the Referential Rate as the main indicator of profitability. With that, they are constituted as little advantageous applications in the last years.

They work through frequent deposits, which are held in the bank until the due date. In addition to TR’s profitability, capitalization bonds offer prize draws over time.

Direct Treasure

Government bonds are examples of investments with TR participation in the past. This is because, a few years ago, there were applications directly linked to this rate: they were NTN-H and NTN-P. However, they are no longer available in the Tesouro Direto program.

This is because, when the Referential Rate was high, bonds were considered attractive. Then, with the fall in TR values ​​– which we will talk about below – these investments were discontinued.

Currently, the options available in the Treasury Direct program, of the Federal Government, are pegged to Selic, IPCA or fixed rates.

What is TR’s relationship with the real estate sector?

In addition to investments, the Referential Rate also plays an important role in the real estate sector, more precisely in credit lines for real estate financing.

That’s because several real estate financings are monetarily updated and readjusted by the reference rate (TR). In this way, it can directly influence the value of the mortgage installments.

Therefore, if you have or are thinking about taking out credit to acquire a property, knowing the TR better and how it can affect your credit lines is essential.

How is TR calculated?

After knowing where to find the TR, when necessary, how about understanding how the rate is calculated? The Central Bank carries out the process to define the value of the Referential Rate on a given day or month.

Since 2018, the calculation has been based on the interest rates of National Treasury Bills (LTN). Therefore, the TR is related to the Selic rate.

Observe the formulas to arrive at the result of the Referential Rate. Initially, it is necessary to find the reducing index, which is given by the following equation:

Where:

  • a — represents the fixed value 1.005. It was defined in the creation of the TR and is intended to prevent it from having negative values;
  • b — it is an unknown that depends on the value of the TBF and is disclosed by the Central Bank itself;
  • TBF — is the Basic Financial Tariff, obtained from LTN interest rates.

The purpose of the above equation is to find the value of R to be applied in the following formula:

Thus, we arrive at the final TR value that is disclosed.

What have been the benchmark rates in recent years?

So far, we’ve shared a lot of information relevant to RT in theory. The time has come to get to know it in practice and observe some details about the history of this indicator in the Brazilian economy.

In the table below, you will see the evolution of the rate from its creation in 1991 to the year 2020. Note how the values ​​have changed a lot over time.

Year TR rate (%)
1991 335.52%
1992 1156.22%
1993 2474.74%
1994 951.20%
1995 31.62%
1996 9.56%
1997 9.78%
1998 7.79%
1999 5.73%
2000 2.10%
2001 2.29%
2002 2.80%
2003 4.65%
2004 1.82%
2005 2.83%
2006 2.04%
2007 1.45%
2008 1.63%
2009 0.71%
2010 0.69%
2011 1.21%
2012 0.29%
2013 0.19%
2014 0.86%
2015 1.80%
2016 2.01%
2017 0.60%
2018 0.00%
2019 0.00%
2020 0.00%

It is possible to notice that, in the first years after its creation, the TR had very high values, being used as a mechanism to control inflation. After the change we mentioned with the Plano Real in 1994, the situation changed.

The Referential Rate was gradually falling. And some one-off increases – such as in 2003 and between 2011 and 2016 – marked periods of greater difficulty in relation to inflation and the Brazilian economy in general.

As of 2016, the TR decreased again and, in the last months of 2017, it reached a zero rate, which remained in the following years, especially because of the successive cuts in the Selic rate.

Reference rate 20 21

See, now, the table referring to the monthly values ​​of the TR in 2021:

Month TR rate (%)
January 0.00%
February 0.00%
March 0.00%
April 0.00%
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Why is TR set to zero?

Whoever checks the TR value may be surprised to find that it is zero. In fact, in recent years it has shown very low values ​​and even zeroed in several months.

It is worth noting that TR can never result in a negative value. Even if the calculation indicates a negative result, it will be converted to zero.

It is important to know this to make sure that investments such as savings and other products that we mentioned above cannot be influenced by negative values, that is, causing a loss in income.

Referential Rate today: where to find it?

Now you know what TR is, when it was created and what changes it has undergone in relation to its use in recent years. But, after all, where to find the values ​​of the Referential Rate today?

In addition to Live, where we update the table with the values ​​on a monthly basis so that you have no worries, you can also follow the index on the website of the Central Bank of Brazil, which is responsible for calculating and disclosing the Referential Rate. It is he who collects data related to interest rates to arrive at the TR value in each period.

So, whoever is interested in knowing the value of the Referential Rate to check income from savings and FGTS or even to simulate real estate financing can do this through the citizen’s calculator.

Frequently Asked Questions about TR

We are nearing the end of our full content on TR. After all the information we’ve shared, you know everything you need about Referral Rate.

It is important, however, to also know some frequent doubts that many citizens have about it.

Check out some of the recurring questions about the Referential Rate now.

What is TR’s role in real estate financing?

At the beginning of the post, we said that TR also participates in the correction of some real estate financing, such as Caixa Econômica Federal financing, for example.

It is important to highlight, however, that not all financing calculations consider this rate.

It is used when credit is offered by the Housing Finance System (SFH). Those who make a financing of this type have the values ​​adjusted by the TR + fixed interest rate, which is defined by the bank itself.

So, if you own or are looking for a mortgage, you will probably come across the Referential Rate at some point.

What is TR’s relationship with Selic?

Analyzing the last few years, it is possible to see that the process of reducing the Selic rate was accompanied by a decrease in the TR until it was zeroed. In fact, the trajectory of the two indicators is very close.

The explanation is simple: as the Selic rate replaced the main reference index, the TR follows its movement. Despite this, its value is usually much lower compared to the Selic, since it also depends on the Government’s economic policies.

Are TR-linked investments beneficial?

As you saw in this post, TR lost importance and started to have very low values ​​throughout Brazilian history. Consequently, the investments linked to it are not among the most advantageous in the market.

Consider, for example, savings bonds. If their income is based on the TR, it means that the money has not yielded anything since September 2017. Savings, despite having a higher rate, also lose out to inflation in many moments.

Therefore, it is worth considering other more interesting investments, such as those pegged to the Selic, the IPCA or fixed rates, for example.

On the other hand, if your objective is to take credit from the mortgage, for example, having a TR zeroed out can result in savings in the amount to be paid to the financial institution.

Now you understand all about the Referral Rate. Did you see how important it is to know more about this indicator that has already affected and is still present in the lives of so many Brazilians?

Do your family and friends know what the Referral Rate is and how it works? So, share the post on your social networks and share knowledge!