Ex-ante is a Latin word that means “before the event.” The term is commonly used in financial markets to refer to the prediction of events such as economic and financial parameters. For example, ex-ante applies when predicting the returns of a security.
Analysts use fundamental factors to determine the expected returns and then compares them to the actual performance of the security. However, ex-ante is not always accurate because the prediction does not account for unexpected variables, and the market is susceptible to shocks that alter the returns of a security.
How It Works
Ex-ante analysis refers to the prediction of an event before it actually happens, or before the participants of that event become aware of the facts. In the financial world, ex-ante is the return that investors expect to earn from an investment portfolio. The term can also apply when calculating earnings estimates of a whole business unit or an individual unit. The actual outcome is not known for certain, but making the prediction of the expected returns serves as the basis for comparing the predicted performance and the actual performance.
Ex-ante predictions can also be made when a merger is expected to be initiated. The predictions are related to the cost savings that will result from the merger, as well as the possible synergies that the combined entity will enjoy after the merger transaction is completed.
While the predictions may occur ex-ante, they may also take occur immediately after the completion of the transaction, but there is uncertainty on the expected performance. While the actual event (the merger) has already happened, the ex-ante analysis focuses on the major upcoming event after the merger. Such events may include earnings reports, share price movements, industry dominance, etc.
Uncertainty of Ex-Ante Analysis
Predicting the expected returns of a security or investment is often a difficult task, especially due to the unpredictability of the market. Some analysts may attempt to account for expected variables in the market, but the predictions may sometimes miss the targets due to external shocks that affect the financial markets. Therefore, ex-ante analysis cannot be relied upon entirely when making financial decisions.
Ex-Ante Interest Rate
Ex-ante interest rate is the real interest rate that is calculated before the actual rate of inflation is known. It is the interest rate quoted on loans and bonds, and it does not adjust for the rate of inflation. For example, if a bank lends you $100 at an interest rate of 10%, you can expect to pay $10 as interest without adjusting for the inflation rate.
The lender assumes that the rate of inflation will be zero, and expects to receive $110 after the expiration of the loan repayment duration. Assuming that the actual interest rate turns out to be 10% (same as the interest rate charged), the real interest rate will be zero rather than the expected 10%.
When the lender advanced the loan to the borrower, the rate of inflation was unknown, and the lender predicted that the inflation rate would be zero. Therefore, based on this assumption, Nominal Rate = Real Rate = 10%. It is the ex-ante interest rate because it was determined before the actual interest rate was known to the lender.
The inflation rate during the loan period is only known after the loan’s been paid, which is referred to as the ex-post real interest on the loan. In this case, the ex-post interest rate is calculated as follows: Nominal Rate – Actual Inflation Rate (10% – 10% = 0%).
Ex-Ante vs. Ex-Post
After the occurrence of a predicted event, the predicted outcome (ex-ante) can be compared to the actual outcome (ex-post). The ex-post information allows the investment company to evaluate how they actually performed as opposed to how well they planned to achieve the outcome. The actual outcome can also help the investor refine their prediction process and get additional insights on how to make the predictions closer to the actual outcome.