The repo rate is the difference between the repurchase and sale prices associated with a given repossession transaction. Generally, the initial sale price is lower than the repurchase price that must be paid in order to regain possession of the item that was traded. This difference between the two prices normally functions as the amount of interest earned by the lender as part of the transaction process. Depending on the relationship between the lender and the debtor, the lender may choose to apply a discount rate to the percentage that serves as the interest on the loan.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand the process of a repo rate is to consider an example of how this type of transaction works. Debtor A wishes to receive a loan from Lender B, but the lender requires some type of collateral to cover the amount of the loan. Thus, Debtor A provides the lender with a collection of jewelry that is currently valued at approximately the amount of the loan. Lender B accepts the jewels as collateral and takes possession of them in return for approving the loan.
The plan of the debtor is to repay both the basic loan amount plus a percentage of the loan to the lender. Once the lender has received the loan amount and the percentage, the jewels are released by the lender and become the property of the debtor once more. For the duration of the loan period, the lender is the owner of record, but is usually not free to resell the collateral unless the debtor defaults on the loan.
The utilization of a repo rate arrangement is common in many different types of commerce and finance situations. Nations often use this model in lending resources to one another, either issuing government securities through a central bank to guarantee the loan amount, or pledging territories that are in the position of the nation receiving the loan. While the actual term repo rate is no more than a century or so old, the general premise has been employed for centuries.
The collateral used in a repo rate transaction can be just about any item of value that the lender will accept. Land, securities, or other types of property are commonly employed with this lending model. It is not unusual for both components of the transaction to be conducted by a single banking institution. Depending on the nature of the collateral, the property may be stored in a safety deposit box until the loan is repaid in full or the debtor defaults and the property comes into the permanent possession of the lender.