Capital budgeting or investment appraisal is a process which anticipates expenses pertaining to assets as well as cash flows in the future. Investment appraisal takes into account the various factors which impact expenditure in the long run. Inflation is one such factor, which impacts investments and returns.
Inflation and capital budgeting are closely related and at no cost capital budgeting can be completed without taking into account inflation. All of us know, that inflation causes our purchasing power to decline. So, if we buy an asset for USD5000 today, it is probable that the same asset can be bought for USD10,000 after a couple of years. However, it is assumed that the project cost as well as net revenues increase in a proportionate manner with inflation. For this reason, in reality rates of inflation are not taken into account. But this is not true always, inflation does affect capital budgeting. Inflation and capital budgeting are bound to affect cash flows .
Effects of Inflation and Capital Budgeting
Inflation affects discount rates and cash flows. There are two factors on which inflation acts. They are discount rate and cash flow.
I) Cash flows:
Let us assume that r refers to the revenues; t refers to the tax rate; c is the cost and d is the depreciation. By arranging the above variables in a formula the following is obtained.
(r-c) (1-t) + d = (r-c) (1-t) + dt
Inflation affects (r-c) (1-t), which is on the right side of the equation. But Inflation does not impact dt. The reason can be attributed to the fact that historical costs determine depreciation costs. This implies that inflation has a tendency to decrease the value of real rate of return. Studies reveal that Net cash flow is more as compared to real cash flows provided we do not take inflation into account.
II) Discount rates:
Discount rates refer to the rate of return, which is the required rate or the target rate. The project cost is inflation adjusted. This adjustment is usually done in the premiums. The required rate or the target rate of return for the investors ought to be the same as real inflation return together with the expected inflation rate.
Mathematical representation of discount rate:
Let us assume that RNT is inflation in nominal terms(required). RR is the real rate of inflation , p is the expected rate of inflation.
The equation is:
RNT = RR + p
We already know that inflation adjusts itself in the premiums. Hence, rate of inflation ought to be highlighted in the cash flows also.
Inflation and capital budgeting are inseparable and a project can be successfully taken to completion if all the hindrances are minimized, if not eliminated. Inflation eats away the values of our assets and it should be adequately compensated for.