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In economics and finance, present value (PV), also known as present discounted value, is the value of an expected income stream determined as of the date of valuation. The present value is usually less than the future value because money has interest-earning potential, a characteristic referred to as the time value of money, except during times of negative interest rates, when the present value will be equal or more than the future value. Time value can be described with the simplified phrase, "A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow". Here, 'worth more' means that its value is greater than tomorrow. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow because the dollar can be invested and earn a day's worth of interest, making the total accumulate to a value more than a dollar by tomorrow. Interest can be compared to rent. Just as rent is paid to a landlord by a tenant without the ownership of the asset being transferred, interest is paid to a lender by a borrower who gains access to the money for a time before paying it back. By letting the borrower have access to the money, the lender has sacrificed the exchange value of this money, and is compensated for it in the form of interest. The initial amount of borrowed funds (the present value) is less than the total amount of money paid to the lender.
Present value calculations, and similarly future value calculations, are used to value loans, mortgages, annuities, sinking funds, perpetuities, bonds, and more. These calculations are used to make comparisons between cash flows that don’t occur at simultaneous times, since time and dates must be consistent in order to make comparisons between values. When deciding between projects in which to invest, the choice can be made by comparing respective present values of such projects by means of discounting the expected income streams at the corresponding project interest rate, or rate of return. The project with the highest present value, i.e. that is most valuable today, should be chosen.