Tuesday, October 1, 2013



A Workbook on Bank Reserves and Deposit Expansion
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
This complete booklet is was originally produced and distributed free by:
Public Information Center
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
P. O. Box 834

But it is now out of print. Photo copies can be made available by monques@myhome.net.
The purpose of this booklet is to describe the basic process of money creation in a
"fractional reserve" banking system. The approach taken illustrates the changes in bank
balance sheets that occur when deposits in banks change as a result of monetary
action by the Federal Reserve System - the central bank of the United States. The
relationships shown are based on simplifying assumptions. For the sake of simplicity,
the relationships are shown as if they were mechanical, but they are not, as is described
later in the booklet. Thus, they should not be interpreted to imply a close and
predictable relationship between a specific central bank transaction and the quantity of
The introductory pages contain a brief general description of the characteristics of
money and how the U.S. money system works. The illustrations in the following two
sections describe two processes: first, how bank deposits expand or contract in
response to changes in the amount of reserves supplied by the central bank; and
second, how those reserves are affected by both Federal Reserve actions and other
factors. A final section deals with some of the elements that modify, at least in the short
run, the simple mechanical relationship between bank reserves and deposit money.
Money is such a routine part of everyday living that its existence and acceptance
ordinarily are taken for granted. A user may sense that money must come into being
either automatically as a result of economic activity or as an outgrowth of some
government operation. But just how this happens all too often remains a mystery.
What is Money?
If money is viewed simply as a tool used to facilitate transactions, only those media that
are readily accepted in exchange for goods, services, and other assets need to be
considered. Many things - from stones to baseball cards - have served this monetary
function through the ages. Today, in the United States, money used in transactions is
mainly of three kinds - currency (paper money and coins in the pockets and purses of
the public); demand deposits (non-interest bearing checking accounts in banks); and
other checkable deposits, such as negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) accounts, at
all depository institutions, including commercial and savings banks, savings and loan
associations, and credit unions. Travelers checks also are included in the definition of
transactions money. Since $1 in currency and $1 in checkable deposits are freely convertible into each other and both can be used directly for expenditures, they are
money in equal degree. However, only the cash and balances held by the nonbank
public are counted in the money supply. Deposits of the U.S. Treasury, depository
institutions, foreign banks and official institutions, as well as vault cash in depository
institutions are excluded.
This transactions concept of money is the one designated as M1 in the Federal
Reserve's money stock statistics. Broader concepts of money (M2 and M3) include M1
as well as certain other financial assets (such as savings and time deposits at
depository institutions and shares in money market mutual funds) which are relatively
liquid but believed to represent principally investments to their holders rather than media
of exchange. While funds can be shifted fairly easily between transaction balances and
these other liquid assets, the money-creation process takes place principally through
transaction accounts. In the remainder of this booklet, "money" means M1.
The distribution between the currency and deposit components of money depends
largely on the preferences of the public. When a depositor cashes a check or makes a
cash withdrawal through an automatic teller machine, he or she reduces the amount of
deposits and increases the amount of currency held by the public. Conversely, when
people have more currency than is needed, some is returned to banks in exchange for
While currency is used for a great variety of small transactions, most of the dollar
amount of money payments in our economy are made by check or by electronic transfer
between deposit accounts. Moreover, currency is a relatively small part of the money
stock. About 69 percent, or $623 billion, of the $898 billion total stock in December
1991, was in the form of transaction deposits, of which $290 billion were demand and
$333 billion were other checkable deposits.
What Makes Money Valuable?
In the United States neither paper currency nor deposits have value as commodities.
Intrinsically, a dollar bill is just a piece of paper, deposits merely book entries. Coins do
have some intrinsic value as metal, but generally far less than their face value.
What, then, makes these instruments - checks, paper money, and coins - acceptable at
face value in payment of all debts and for other monetary uses? Mainly, it is the
confidence people have that they will be able to exchange such money for other
financial assets and for real goods and services whenever they choose to do so.
Money, like anything else, derives its value from its scarcity in relation to its usefulness.
Commodities or services are more or less valuable because there are more or less of
them relative to the amounts people want. Money's usefulness is its unique ability to
command other goods and services and to permit a holder to be constantly ready to do
so. How much money is demanded depends on several factors, such as the total
volume of transactions in the economy at any given time, the payments habits of the
society, the amount of money that individuals and businesses want to keep on hand to
take care of unexpected transactions, and the forgone earnings of holding financial
assets in the form of money rather than some other asset.
Control of the quantity of money is essential if its value is to be kept stable. Money's real
value can be measured only in terms of what it will buy. Therefore, its value varies
inversely with the general level of prices. Assuming a constant rate of use, if the volume
of money grows more rapidly than the rate at which the output of real goods and services increases, prices will rise. This will happen because there will be more money
than there will be goods and services to spend it on at prevailing prices. But if, on the
other hand, growth in the supply of money does not keep pace with the economy's
current production, then prices will fall, the nations's labor force, factories, and other
production facilities will not be fully employed, or both.
Just how large the stock of money needs to be in order to handle the transactions of the
economy without exerting undue influence on the price level depends on how
intensively money is being used. Every transaction deposit balance and every dollar bill
is part of somebody's spendable funds at any given time, ready to move to other owners
as transactions take place. Some holders spend money quickly after they get it, making
these funds available for other uses. Others, however, hold money for longer periods.
Obviously, when some money remains idle, a larger total is needed to accomplish any
given volume of transactions.
Who Creates Money?
Changes in the quantity of money may originate with actions of the Federal Reserve
System (the central bank), depository institutions (principally commercial banks), or the
public. The major control, however, rests with the central bank.
The actual process of money creation takes place primarily in banks.(1) As noted
earlier, checkable liabilities of banks are money. These liabilities are customers'
accounts. They increase when customers deposit currency and checks and when the
proceeds of loans made by the banks are credited to borrowers' accounts.
In the absence of legal reserve requirements, banks can build up deposits by increasing
loans and investments so long as they keep enough currency on hand to redeem
whatever amounts the holders of deposits want to convert into currency. This unique
attribute of the banking business was discovered many centuries ago.
It started with goldsmiths. As early bankers, they initially provided safekeeping services,
making a profit from vault storage fees for gold and coins deposited with them. People
would redeem their "deposit receipts" whenever they needed gold or coins to purchase
something, and physically take the gold or coins to the seller who, in turn, would deposit
them for safekeeping, often with the same banker. Everyone soon found that it was a lot
easier simply to use the deposit receipts directly as a means of payment. These
receipts, which became known as notes, were acceptable as money since whoever held
them could go to the banker and exchange them for metallic money.
Then, bankers discovered that they could make loans merely by giving their promises to
pay, or bank notes, to borrowers. In this way, banks began to create money. More notes
could be issued than the gold and coin on hand because only a portion of the notes
outstanding would be presented for payment at any one time. Enough metallic money
had to be kept on hand, of course, to redeem whatever volume of notes was presented
for payment.
Transaction deposits are the modern counterpart of bank notes. It was a small step from
printing notes to making book entries crediting deposits of borrowers, which the
borrowers in turn could "spend" by writing checks, thereby "printing" their own money.
What Limits the Amount of Money Banks Can Create?
If deposit money can be created so easily, what is to prevent banks from making too
much - more than sufficient to keep the nation's productive resources fully employed
without price inflation? Like its predecessor, the modern bank must keep available, to make payment on demand, a considerable amount of currency and funds on deposit
with the central bank. The bank must be prepared to convert deposit money into
currency for those depositors who request currency. It must make remittance on checks
written by depositors and presented for payment by other banks (settle adverse
clearings). Finally, it must maintain legally required reserves, in the form of vault cash
and/or balances at its Federal Reserve Bank, equal to a prescribed percentage of its
The public's demand for currency varies greatly, but generally follows a seasonal
pattern that is quite predictable. The effects on bank funds of these variations in the
amount of currency held by the public usually are offset by the central bank, which
replaces the reserves absorbed by currency withdrawals from banks. (Just how this is
done will be explained later.) For all banks taken together, there is no net drain of funds
through clearings. A check drawn on one bank normally will be deposited to the credit of
another account, if not in the same bank, then in some other bank.
These operating needs influence the minimum amount of reserves an individual bank
will hold voluntarily. However, as long as this minimum amount is less than what is
legally required, operating needs are of relatively minor importance as a restraint on
aggregate deposit expansion in the banking system. Such expansion cannot continue
beyond the point where the amount of reserves that all banks have is just sufficient to
satisfy legal requirements under our "fractional reserve" system. For example, if
reserves of 20 percent were required, deposits could expand only until they were five
times as large as reserves. Reserves of $10 million could support deposits of $50
million. The lower the percentage requirement, the greater the deposit expansion that
can be supported by each additional reserve dollar. Thus, the legal reserve ratio
together with the dollar amount of bank reserves are the factors that set the upper limit
to money creation.
What Are Bank Reserves?
Currency held in bank vaults may be counted as legal reserves as well as deposits
(reserve balances) at the Federal Reserve Banks. Both are equally acceptable in
satisfaction of reserve requirements. A bank can always obtain reserve balances by
sending currency to its Reserve Bank and can obtain currency by drawing on its reserve
balance. Because either can be used to support a much larger volume of deposit
liabilities of banks, currency in circulation and reserve balances together are often
referred to as "high-powered money" or the "monetary base." Reserve balances and
vault cash in banks, however, are not counted as part of the money stock held by the
For individual banks, reserve accounts also serve as working balances.(2) Banks may
increase the balances in their reserve accounts by depositing checks and proceeds
from electronic funds transfers as well as currency. Or they may draw down these
balances by writing checks on them or by authorizing a debit to them in payment for
currency, customers' checks, or other funds transfers.
Although reserve accounts are used as working balances, each bank must maintain, on
the average for the relevant reserve maintenance period, reserve balances at their
Reserve Bank and vault cash which together are equal to its required reserves, as
determined by the amount of its deposits in the reserve computation period.
Where Do Bank Reserves Come From?Increases or decreases in bank reserves can result from a number of factors discussed
later in this booklet. From the standpoint of money creation, however, the essential point
is that the reserves of banks are, for the most part, liabilities of the Federal Reserve
Banks, and net changes in them are largely determined by actions of the Federal
Reserve System. Thus, the Federal Reserve, through its ability to vary both the total
volume of reserves and the required ratio of reserves to deposit liabilities, influences
banks' decisions with respect to their assets and deposits. One of the major
responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System is to provide the total amount of reserves
consistent with the monetary needs of the economy at reasonably stable prices. Such
actions take into consideration, of course, any changes in the pace at which money is
being used and changes in the public's demand for cash balances.
The reader should be mindful that deposits and reserves tend to expand simultaneously
and that the Federal Reserve's control often is exerted through the market place as
individual banks find it either cheaper or more expensive to obtain their required
reserves, depending on the willingness of the Fed to support the current rate of credit
and deposit expansion.
While an individual bank can obtain reserves by bidding them away from other banks,
this cannot be done by the banking system as a whole. Except for reserves borrowed
temporarily from the Federal Reserve's discount window, as is shown later, the supply
of reserves in the banking system is controlled by the Federal Reserve.
Moreover, a given increase in bank reserves is not necessarily accompanied by an
expansion in money equal to the theoretical potential based on the required ratio of
reserves to deposits. What happens to the quantity of money will vary, depending upon
the reactions of the banks and the public. A number of slippages may occur. What
amount of reserves will be drained into the public's currency holdings? To what extent
will the increase in total reserves remain unused as excess reserves? How much will be
absorbed by deposits or other liabilities not defined as money but against which banks
might also have to hold reserves? How sensitive are the banks to policy actions of the
central bank? The significance of these questions will be discussed later in this booklet.
The answers indicate why changes in the money supply may be different than expected
or may respond to policy action only after considerable time has elapsed.
In the succeeding pages, the effects of various transactions on the quantity of money
are described and illustrated. The basic working tool is the "T" account, which provides
a simple means of tracing, step by step, the effects of these transactions on both the
asset and liability sides of bank balance sheets. Changes in asset items are entered on
the left half of the "T" and changes in liabilities on the right half. For any one transaction,
of course, there must be at least two entries in order to maintain the equality of assets
and liabilities.
1In order to describe the money-creation process as simply as possible, the term "bank" used in this booklet should be understood to
encompass all depository institutions. Since the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980, all depository
institutions have been permitted to offer interest bearing transaction accounts to certain customers. Transaction accounts (interest bearing as
well as demand deposits on which payment of interest is still legally prohibited) at all depository institutions are subject to the reserve
requirements set by the Federal Reserve. Thus all such institutions, not just commercial banks, have the potential for creating money.
2Part of an individual bank's reserve account may represent its reserve balance used to meet its reserve requirements while another part
may be its required clearing balance on which earnings credits are generated to pay for Federal Reserve Bank services. back  Bank Deposits - How They Expand or Contract
Let us assume that expansion in the money stock is desired by the Federal Reserve to
achieve its policy objectives. One way the central bank can initiate such an expansion is
through purchases of securities in the open market. Payment for the securities adds to
bank reserves. Such purchases (and sales) are called "open market operations."
How do open market purchases add to bank reserves and deposits? Suppose the
Federal Reserve System, through its trading desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New
York, buys $10,000 of Treasury bills from a dealer in U. S. government securities.(3) In
today's world of computerized financial transactions, the Federal Reserve Bank pays for
the securities with an "telectronic" check drawn on itself.(4) Via its "Fedwire" transfer
network, the Federal Reserve notifies the dealer's designated bank (Bank A) that
payment for the securities should be credited to (deposited in) the dealer's account at
Bank A. At the same time, Bank A's reserve account at the Federal Reserve is credited
for the amount of the securities purchase. The Federal Reserve System has added
$10,000 of securities to its assets, which it has paid for, in effect, by creating a liability
on itself in the form of bank reserve balances. These reserves on Bank A's books are
matched by $10,000 of the dealer's deposits that did not exist before. See illustration 1.
How the Multiple Expansion Process Works
If the process ended here, there would be no "multiple" expansion, i.e., deposits and
bank reserves would have changed by the same amount. However, banks are required
to maintain reserves equal to only a fraction of their deposits. Reserves in excess of this
amount may be used to increase earning assets - loans and investments. Unused or
excess reserves earn no interest. Under current regulations, the reserve requirement
against most transaction accounts is 10 percent.(5) Assuming, for simplicity, a uniform
10 percent reserve requirement against all transaction deposits, and further assuming
that all banks attempt to remain fully invested, we can now trace the process of
expansion in deposits which can take place on the basis of the additional reserves
provided by the Federal Reserve System's purchase of U. S. government securities.
The expansion process may or may not begin with Bank A, depending on what the
dealer does with the money received from the sale of securities. If the dealer
immediately writes checks for $10,000 and all of them are deposited in other banks,
Bank A loses both deposits and reserves and shows no net change as a result of the
System's open market purchase. However, other banks have received them. Most
likely, a part of the initial deposit will remain with Bank A, and a part will be shifted to
other banks as the dealer's checks clear.
It does not really matter where this money is at any given time. The important fact is that
these deposits do not disappear. They are in some deposit accounts at all times. All
banks together have $10,000 of deposits and reserves that they did not have before.
However, they are not required to keep $10,000 of reserves against the $10,000 of
deposits. All they need to retain, under a 10 percent reserve requirement, is $1000. The
remaining $9,000 is "excess reserves." This amount can be loaned or invested. See
illustration 2.
If business is active, the banks with excess reserves probably will have opportunities to
loan the $9,000. Of course, they do not really pay out loans from the money they
receive as deposits. If they did this, no additional money would be created. What they do when they make loans is to accept promissory notes in exchange for credits to the
borrowers' transaction accounts. Loans (assets) and deposits (liabilities) both rise by
$9,000. Reserves are unchanged by the loan transactions. But the deposit credits
constitute new additions to the total deposits of the banking system. See illustration 3.
3Dollar amounts used in the various illustrations do not necessarily bear any resemblance to actual transactions. For example, open market
operations typically are conducted with many dealers and in amounts totaling several billion dollars. back
4Indeed, many transactions today are accomplished through an electronic transfer of funds between accounts rather than through issuance
of a paper check. Apart from the time of posting, the accounting entries are the same whether a transfer is made with a paper check or
electronically. The term "check," therefore, is used for both types of transfers. back
5For each bank, the reserve requirement is 3 percent on a specified base amount of transaction accounts and 10 percent on the amount
above this base. Initially, the Monetary Control Act set this base amount - called the "low reserve tranche" - at $25 million, and provided for it
to change annually in line with the growth in transaction deposits nationally. The low reserve tranche was $41.1 million in 1991 and $42.2
million in 1992. The Garn-St. Germain Act of 1982 further modified these requirements by exempting the first $2 million of reservable
liabilities from reserve requirements. Like the low reserve tranche, the exempt level is adjusted each year to reflect growth in reservable
liabilities. The exempt level was $3.4 million in 1991 and $3.6 million in 1992. back
Deposit Expansion
1. When the Federal Reserve Bank purchases government securities, bank reserves
increase. This happens because the seller of the securities receives payment through a
credit to a designated deposit account at a bank (Bank A) which the Federal Reserve
effects by crediting the reserve account of Bank A.
Assets Liabilities Assets Liabilities
US govt
securities.. +10,000
Reserve acct.
Bank A.. +10,000
Reserves with
FR Banks.. +10,000
deposit.. +10,000
The customer deposit at Bank A likely will be transferred, in part, to other banks and
quickly loses its identity amid the huge interbank flow of deposits. back
2.As a result, all banks taken together
now have "excess" reserves on which
deposit expansion can take place.
Total reserves gained from new deposits.......10,000
less: required against new deposits (at 10%)... 1,000
equals: Excess reserves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,000
Expansion - Stage 1
3.Expansion takes place only if the banks that hold these excess reserves (Stage 1
banks) increase their loans or investments. Loans are made by crediting the borrower's
account, i.e., by creating additional deposit money. back
Assets LiabilitiesLoans....... +9,000 Borrower deposits.... +9,000
This is the beginning of the deposit expansion process. In the first stage of the process,
total loans and deposits of the banks rise by an amount equal to the excess reserves
existing before any loans were made (90 percent of the initial deposit increase). At the
end of Stage 1, deposits have risen a total of $19,000 (the initial $10,000 provided by
the Federal Reserve's action plus the $9,000 in deposits created by Stage 1 banks).
See illustration 4. However, only $900 (10 percent of $9000) of excess reserves have
been absorbed by the additional deposit growth at Stage 1 banks. See illustration 5.
The lending banks, however, do not expect to retain the deposits they create through
their loan operations. Borrowers write checks that probably will be deposited in other
banks. As these checks move through the collection process, the Federal Reserve
Banks debit the reserve accounts of the paying banks (Stage 1 banks) and credit those
of the receiving banks. See illustration 6.
Whether Stage 1 banks actually do lose the deposits to other banks or whether any or
all of the borrowers' checks are redeposited in these same banks makes no difference
in the expansion process. If the lending banks expect to lose these deposits - and an
equal amount of reserves - as the borrowers' checks are paid, they will not lend more
than their excess reserves. Like the original $10,000 deposit, the loan-credited deposits
may be transferred to other banks, but they remain somewhere in the banking system.
Whichever banks receive them also acquire equal amounts of reserves, of which all but
10 percent will be "excess."
Assuming that the banks holding the $9,000 of deposits created in Stage 1 in turn make
loans equal to their excess reserves, then loans and deposits will rise by a further
$8,100 in the second stage of expansion. This process can continue until deposits have
risen to the point where all the reserves provided by the initial purchase of government
securities by the Federal Reserve System are just sufficient to satisfy reserve
requirements against the newly created deposits.(See pages10 and 11.)
The individual bank, of course, is not concerned as to the stages of expansion in which
it may be participating. Inflows and outflows of deposits occur continuously. Any deposit
received is new money, regardless of its ultimate source. But if bank policy is to make
loans and investments equal to whatever reserves are in excess of legal requirements,
the expansion process will be carried on.
How Much Can Deposits Expand in the Banking System?
The total amount of expansion that can take place is illustrated on page 11. Carried
through to theoretical limits, the initial $10,000 of reserves distributed within the banking
system gives rise to an expansion of $90,000 in bank credit (loans and investments)
and supports a total of $100,000 in new deposits under a 10 percent reserve
requirement. The deposit expansion factor for a given amount of new reserves is thus
the reciprocal of the required reserve percentage (1/.10 = 10). Loan expansion will be
less by the amount of the initial injection. The multiple expansion is possible because
the banks as a group are like one large bank in which checks drawn against borrowers'
deposits result in credits to accounts of other depositors, with no net change in the total
Expansion through Bank Investments
Deposit expansion can proceed from investments as well as loans. Suppose that the
demand for loans at some Stage 1 banks is slack. These banks would then probably purchase securities. If the sellers of the securities were customers, the banks would
make payment by crediting the customers' transaction accounts, deposit liabilities would
rise just as if loans had been made. More likely, these banks would purchase the
securities through dealers, paying for them with checks on themselves or on their
reserve accounts. These checks would be deposited in the sellers' banks. In either
case, the net effects on the banking system are identical with those resulting from loan
4 As a result of the process so far, total assets and total liabilities of all banks together
have risen 19,000. back
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F. R. Banks...+10,000
Loans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . + 9,000
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +19,000
Deposits: Initial. . . .+10,000
Stage 1 . . . . . . . . . + 9,000
Total . . . . . . . . . . .+19,000
5Excess reserves have been reduced by the amount required against the deposits
created by the loans made in Stage 1. back
Total reserves gained from initial deposits. . . . 10,000
less: Required against initial deposits . . . . . . . . -1,000
less: Required against Stage 1 requirements . . . . -900
equals: Excess reserves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,100
Why do these banks stop increasing their loans
and deposits when they still have excess reserves?
6 ...because borrowers write checks on their accounts at the lending banks. As these
checks are deposited in the payees' banks and cleared, the deposits created by Stage 1
loans and an equal amount of reserves may be transferred to other banks. back
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F. R. Banks . -9000
(matched under FR bank
Borrower deposits . . . -9,000
(shown as additions to
other bank deposits)
Assets Liabilities
Reserve accounts: Stage 1 banks . -9,000
Other banks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +9,000
OTHER BANKSAssets Liabilities
Reserves with F. R. Banks . +9,000 Deposits . . . . . . . . . +9,000
Deposit expansion has just begun!
Page 10.
7Expansion continues as the banks that have excess reserves increase their loans by
that amount, crediting borrowers' deposit accounts in the process, thus creating still
more money.
Assets Liabilities
Loans . . . . . . . . + 8100 Borrower deposits . . . +8,100
8Now the banking system's assets and liabilities have risen by 27,100.
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F. R. Banks . +10,000
Loans: Stage 1 . . . . . . . . . . .+ 9,000
Stage 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . + 8,100
Total. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +27,000
Deposits: Initial . . . . +10,000
Stage 1 . . . . . . . . . . . +9,000
Stage 2 . . . . . . . . . . . +8,100
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . +27,000
9 But there are still 7,290 of excess reserves in the banking system.
Total reserves gained from initial deposits . . . . . 10,000
less: Required against initial deposits . -1,000
less: Required against Stage 1 deposits . -900
less: Required against Stage 2 deposits . -810 . . . 2,710
equals: Excess reserves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,290 --> to Stage 3 banks
10 As borrowers make payments, these reserves will be further dispersed, and the
process can continue through many more stages, in progressively smaller increments,
until the entire 10,000 of reserves have been absorbed by deposit growth. As is
apparent from the summary table on page 11, more than two-thirds of the deposit
expansion potential is reached after the first ten stages.
It should be understood that the stages of expansion occur neither simultaneously nor in
the sequence described above. Some banks use their reserves incompletely or only
after a
considerable time lag, while others expand assets on the basis of expected reserve
The process is, in fact, continuous and may never reach its theoretical limits.
End page 10. backPage 11.
Thus through stage after stage of expansion,
"money" can grow to a total of 10 times the new
reserves supplied to the banking system....
Assets Liabilities
[ Reserves ]
Total (Required) (Excess)
Loans and
Reserves provided 10,000 1,000 9,000 - 10,000
Exp. Stage 1 10,000 1900 8,100 9,000 19,000
Stage2 10,000 2,710 7,290 17,100 27,100
Stage 3 10,000 3,439 6,561 24,390 34,390
Stage 4 10,000 4,095 5,905 30,951 40,951
Stage 5 10,000 4,686 5,314 36,856 46,856
Stage 6 10,000 5,217 4,783 42,170 52,170
Stage 7 10,000 5,695 4,305 46,953 56,953
Stage 8 10,000 6,126 3,874 51,258 61,258
Stage 9 10,000 6,513 3,487 55,132 65,132
Stage 10 10,000 6,862 3,138 58,619 68,619
... ... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... ...
Stage 20 10,000 8,906 1,094 79,058 89,058
... ... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... ...
Final Stage 10,000 10,000 0 90,000 100,000
...as the new deposits created by loans
at each stage are added to those created at all
earlier stages and those supplied by the initial
reserve-creating action.End page 11. back
Page 12.
How Open Market Sales Reduce bank Reserves and Deposits
Now suppose some reduction in the amount of money is desired. Normally this would
reflect temporary or seasonal reductions in activity to be financed since, on a year-toyear basis, a growing economy needs at least some monetary expansion. Just as
purchases of government securities by the Federal Reserve System can provide the
basis for deposit expansion by adding to bank reserves, sales of securities by the
Federal Reserve System reduce the money stock by absorbing bank reserves. The
process is essentially the reverse of the expansion steps just described.
Suppose the Federal Reserve System sells $10,000 of Treasury bills to a U.S.
government securities dealer and receives in payment an "electronic" check drawn on
Bank A. As this payment is made, Bank A's reserve account at a Federal Reserve Bank
is reduced by $10,000. As a result, the Federal Reserve System's holdings of securities
and the reserve accounts of banks are both reduced $10,000. The $10,000 reduction in
Bank A's depost liabilities constitutes a decline in the money stock. See illustration 11.
Contraction Also Is a Cumulative Process
While Bank A may have regained part of the initial reduction in deposits from other
banks as a result of interbank deposit flows, all banks taken together have $10,000 less
in both deposits and reserves than they had before the Federal Reserve's sales of
securities. The amount of reserves freed by the decline in deposits, however, is only
$1,000 (10 percent of $10,000). Unless the banks that lose the reserves and deposits
had excess reserves, they are left with a reserve deficiency of $9,000. See illustration
12. Although they may borrow from the Federal Reserve Banks to cover this deficiency
temporarily, sooner or later the banks will have to obtain the necessary reserves in
some other way or reduce their needs for reserves.
One way for a bank to obtain the reserves it needs is by selling securities. But, as the
buyers of the securities pay for them with funds in their deposit accounts in the same or other banks, the net result is a $9,000 decline in securities and deposits at all banks.
See illustration 13. At the end of Stage 1 of the contraction process, deposits have been
reduced by a total of $19,000 (the initial $10,000 resulting from the Federal Reserve's
action plus the $9,000 in deposits extinguished by securities sales of Stage 1 banks).
See illustration 14.
However, there is now a reserve deficiency of $8,100 at banks whose depositors drew
down their accounts to purchase the securities from Stage 1 banks. As the new group of
reserve-deficient banks, in turn, makes up this deficiency by selling securities or
reducing loans, further deposit contraction takes place.
Thus, contraction proceeds through reductions in deposits and loans or investments in
one stage after another until total deposits have been reduced to the point where the
smaller volume of reserves is adequate to support them. The contraction multiple is the
same as that which applies in the case of expansion. Under a 10 percent reserve
requirement, a $10,000 reduction in reserves would ultimately entail reductions of
$100,000 in deposits and $90,000 in loans and investments.
As in the case of deposit expansion, contraction of bank deposits may take place as a
result of either sales of securities or reductions of loans. While some adjustments of
both kinds undoubtedly would be made, the initial impact probably would be reflected in
sales of government securities. Most types of outstanding loans cannot be called for
payment prior to their due dates. But the bank may cease to make new loans or refuse
to renew outstanding ones to replace those currently maturing. Thus, deposits built up
by borrowers for the purpose of loan retirement would be extinguished as loans were
There is one important difference between the expansion and contraction processes.
When the Federal Reserve System adds to bank reserves, expansion of credit and
deposits may take place up to the limits permitted by the minimum reserve ratio that
banks are required to maintain. But when the System acts to reduce the amount of bank
reserves, contraction of credit and deposits must take place (except to the extent that
existing excess reserve balances and/or surplus vault cash are utilized) to the point
where the required ratio of reserves to deposits is restored. But the significance of this
difference should not be overemphasized. Because excess reserve balances do not
earn interest, there is a strong incentive to convert them into earning assets (loans and
End of page 12. forward
Page 13.
Deposit Contraction
11When the Federal Reserve Bank sells government securities, bank reserves
decline. This happens because the buyer of the securities makes payment through a
debit to a designated deposit account at a bank (Bank A), with the transfer of funds
being effected by a debit to Bank A's reserve account at the Federal Reserve Bank.
Assets Liabilities Assets LiabilitiesU.S govt
Reserve Accts.
Bank A....-10,000
Reserves with
F.R. Banks....-10,000
This reduction in the customer deposit at Bank A may be spread
among a number of banks through interbank deposit flows.
12 The loss of reserves means that all banks taken together now have a reserve
deficiency. back
Total reserves lost from deposit withdrawal . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,000
less: Reserves freed by deposit decline(10%). . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,000
equals: Deficiency in reserves against remaining deposits . . 9,000
Contraction - Stage 1
13 The banks with the reserve deficiencies (Stage 1 banks) can sell government
securities to acquire reserves, but this causes a decline in the deposits and reserves of
the buyers' banks. back
Assets Liabilities
U.S.government securities...-9,000
Reserves with F.R. Banks..+9,000
Assets Liabilities
Reserve Accounts:
Stage 1 banks........+9,000
Other banks............-9,000
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . -9,000 Deposits . . . . -9,000
14 As a result of the process so far, assets and total deposits of all banks together
have declined 19,000. Stage 1 contraction has freed 900 of reserves, but there is still a
reserve deficiency of 8,100. back
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . -10,000
U.S. government securities . . -9,000
Total . . . . .-19,000
Initial . . . . . . . -10,000
Stage 1 . . . . . . -9,000
Total . . . . . . . -19,000
Further contraction must take place!End of page 13. forward
Bank Reserves - How They Change
Money has been defined as the sum of transaction accounts in depository institutions,
and currency and travelers checks in the hands of the public. Currency is something
almost everyone uses every day. Therefore, when most people think of money, they
think of currency. Contrary to this popular impression, however, transaction deposits are
the most significant part of the money stock. People keep enough currency on hand to
effect small face-to-face transactions, but they write checks to cover most large
expenditures. Most businesses probably hold even smaller amounts of currency in
relation to their total transactions than do individuals.
Since the most important component of money is transaction deposits, and since these
deposits must be supported by reserves, the central bank's influence over money
hinges on its control over the total amount of reserves and the conditions under which
banks can obtain them.
The preceding illustrations of the expansion and contraction processes have
demonstrated how the central bank, by purchasing and selling government securities,
can deliberately change aggregate bank reserves in order to affect deposits. But open
market operations are only one of a number of kinds of transactions or developments
that cause changes in reserves. Some changes originate from actions taken by the
public, by the Treasury Department, by the banks, or by foreign and international
institutions. Other changes arise from the service functions and operating needs of the
Reserve Banks themselves.
The various factors that provide and absorb bank reserve balances, together with
symbols indicating the effects of these developments, are listed on the opposite page.
This tabulaton also indicates the nature of the balancing entries on the Federal
Reserve's books. (To the extent that the impact is absorbed by changes in banks' vault
cash, the Federal Reserve's books are unaffected.)
Independent Factors Versus Policy Action
It is apparent that bank reserves are affected in several ways that are independent of
the control of the central bank. Most of these "independent" elements are changing
more or less continually. Sometimes their effects may last only a day or two before
being reversed automatically. This happens, for instance, when bad weather slows up
the check collection process, giving rise to an automatic increase in Federal Reserve
credit in the form of "float." Other influences, such as changes in the public's currency
holdings, may persist for longer periods of time.
Still other variations in bank reserves result solely from the mechanics of institutional
arrangements among the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Banks, and the depository
institutions. The Treasury, for example, keeps part of its operating cash balance on
deposit with banks. But virtually all disbursements are made from its balance in the
Reserve Banks. As is shown later, any buildup in balances at the Reserve Banks prior
to expenditure by the Treasury causes a dollar-for-dollar drain on bank reserves.
In contrast to these independent elements that affect reserves are the policy actions
taken by the Federal Reserve System. The way System open market purchases and
sales of securities affect reserves has already been described. In addition, there are two other ways in which the System can affect bank reserves and potential deposit volume
directly; first, through loans to depository institutions, and second, through changes in
reserve requirement percentages. A change in the required reserve ratio, of course,
does not alter the dollar volume of reserves directly but does change the amount of
deposits that a given amount of reserves can support.
Any change in reserves, regardless of its origin, has the same potential to affect
deposits. Therefore, in order to achieve the net reserve effects consistent with its
monetary policy objectives, the Federal Reserve System continuously must take
account of what the independent factors are doing to reserves and then, using its policy
tools, offset or supplement them as the situation may require.
By far the largest number and amount of the System's gross open market transactions
are undertaken to offset drains from or additions to bank reserves from non-Federal
Reserve sources that might otherwise cause abrupt changes in credit availability. In
addition, Federal Reserve purchases and/or sales of securities are made to provide the
reserves needed to support the rate of money growth consistent with monetary policy
In this section of the booklet, several kinds of transactions that can have important
week-to-week effects on bank reserves are traced in detail. Other factors that normally
have only a small influence are described briefly on page 35.
Factors Changing Reserve Balances -
Independent and Policy Actions
Assets Liabilities
Public actions
  Increase in currency holdings............... - +
  Decrease in currency holdings............. + -
Treasury, bank, and foreign actions
  Increase in Treasury deposits in F.R. Banks...... - +
  Decrease in Treasury deposits in F.R. Banks..... + -
  Gold purchases (inflow) or increase in official
+ -
  Gold sales (outflows)*....................... - +
  Increase in SDR certificates issued*.................... + -
  Decrease in SDR certificates issued*.................. - +
  Increase in Treasury currency outstanding*................... + -
  Decrease in Treasury currency outstanding*................... - +  Increase in Treasury cash holdings*......... - +
  Decrease in Treasury cash holdings*......... + -
  Increase in service-related balances/adjustments..... - +
  Decrease in service-related balances/adjustments....... + -
  Increase in foreign and other deposits in F.R.
- +
  Decrease in foreign and other deposits in F.R. Banks.... + -
Federal Reserve actions
  Purchases of securities.................................... + +
  Sales of securities................................... - -
  Loans to depository institutions........... + +
  Repayment of loans to depository institutions......... - -
  Increase in Federal Reserve float.................. + +
  Decrease in Federal Reserve float...................... - -
  Increase in assets denominated in foreign currency ...... + +
  Decrease in assets denominated in foreign currency ...... - -
  Increase in other assets**..................................... + +
  Decrease in other assets**..................................... - -
  Increase in other liabilities**..................................... - +
  Decrease in other liabilities**.................................. + -
  Increase in capital accounts**............................. - +
  Decrease in capital accounts**.......................... + -
  Increase in reserve requirements................. -***
  Decrease in reserve requirements................. +***
* These factors represent assets and liabilities of the Treasury.
Changes in them typically affect reserve balances through a related
change in the Federal Reserve Banks' liability "Treasury deposits."
** Included in "Other Federal Reserve accounts" as described on page
*** Effect on excess reserves. Total reserves are unchanged.
Note: To the extent that reserve changes are in the form of vault cash,
Federal Reserve accounts are not affected. back
ForwardChanges in the Amount of Currency Held by the Public
Changes in the amount of currency held by the public typically follow a fairly regular
intramonthly pattern. Major changes also occur over holiday periods and during the
Christmas shopping season - times when people find it convenient to keep more pocket
money on hand. (See chart.) The public acquires currency from banks by cashing
checks. (6) When deposits, which are fractional reserve money, are exchanged for
currency, which is 100 percent reserve money, the banking system experiences a net
reserve drain. Under the assumed 10 percent reserve requirement, a given amount of
bank reserves can support deposits ten times as great, but when drawn upon to meet
currency demand, the exchange is one to one. A $1 increase in currency uses up $1 of
Suppose a bank customer cashed a $100 check to obtain currency needed for a
weekend holiday. Bank deposits decline $100 because the customer pays for the
currency with a check on his or her transaction deposit; and the bank's currency (vault
cash reserves) is also reduced $100. See illustration 15.
Now the bank has less currency. It may replenish its vault cash by ordering currency
from its Federal Reserve Bank - making payment by authorizing a charge to its reserve
account. On the Reserve Bank's books, the charge against the bank's reserve account
is offset by an increase in the liability item "Federal Reserve notes." See illustration 16.
The reserve Bank shipment to the bank might consist, at least in part, of U.S. coins
rather than Federal Reserve notes. All coins, as well as a small amount of paper
currency still outstanding but no longer issued, are obligations of the Treasury. To the
extent that shipments of cash to banks are in the form of coin, the offsetting entry on the
Reserve Bank's books is a decline in its asset item "coin."
The public now has the same volume of money as before, except that more is in the
form of currency and less is in the form of transaction deposits. Under a 10 percent
reserve requirement, the amount of reserves required against the $100 of deposits was
only $10, while a full $100 of reserves have been drained away by the disbursement of
$100 in currency. Thus, if the bank had no excess reserves, the $100 withdrawal in
currency causes a reserve deficiency of $90. Unless new reserves are provided from
some other source, bank assets and deposits will have to be reduced (according to the
contraction process described on pages 12 and 13) by an additional $900. At that point,
the reserve deficiency caused by the cash withdrawal would be eliminated.
When Currency Returns to Banks, Reserves Rise
After holiday periods, currency returns to the banks. The customer who cashed a check
to cover anticipated cash expenditures may later redeposit any currency still held that's
beyond normal pocket money needs. Most of it probably will have changed hands, and
it will be deposited by operators of motels, gasoline stations, restaurants, and retail
stores. This process is exactly the reverse of the currency drain, except that the banks
to which currency is returned may not be the same banks that paid it out. But in the
aggregate, the banks gain reserves as 100 percent reserve money is converted back
into fractional reserve money.
When $100 of currency is returned to the banks, deposits and vault cash are increased.
See illustration 17. The banks can keep the currency as vault cash, which also counts
as reserves. More likely, the currency will be shipped to the Reserve Banks. The
Reserve Banks credit bank reserve accounts and reduce Federal Reserve note liabilities. See illustration 18. Since only $10 must be held against the new $100 in
deposits, $90 is excess reserves and can give rise to $900 of additional deposits(7).
To avoid multiple contraction or expansion of deposit money merely because the public
wishes to change the composition of its money holdings, the effects of changes in the
public's currency holdings on bank reserves normally are offset by System open market
6The same balance sheet entries apply whether the individual physically cashes a paper check or obtains currency by withdrawing cash
through an automatic teller machine. back
7Under current reserve accounting regulations, vault cash reserves are used to satisfy reserve requirements in a future maintenance period
while reserve balances satisfy requirements in the current period. As a result, the impact on a bank's current reserve position may differ from
that shown unless the bank restores its vault cash position in the current period via changes in its reserve balance. back
15 When a depositor cashes a check, both deposits and vault cash reserves decline.
Assets Liabilities
Vault cash reserves . . -100 Deposits . . . . -100
(Required . . -10)
(Deficit . . . . 90)
16 If the bank replenishes its vault cash, its account at the Reserve Bank is drawn
down in exchange for notes issued by the Federal Reserve. back
Assets Liabilities
Reserve accounts: Bank A . . . -100
F.R. notes . . . +100
Assets Liabilities
Vault cash . . . . . . . . +100
Reserves with F.R. Banks . -100
17 When currency comes back to the banks, both deposits and vault cash reserves
rise. back
Assets Liabilities
Vault cash reserves . . +100 Deposits . . . . +100 (Required . . . +10)
(Excess . . . . +90)
18 If the currency is returned to the Federal reserve, reserve accounts are credited
and Federal Reserve notes are taken out of circulation. back
Assets Liabilities
Reserve accounts: Bank A . . +100
F.R. notes . . . . . -100
Assets Liabilities
Vault cash . . . . . -100
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . . +100
Page 18
Changes in U.S. Treasury Deposits in Federal Reserve
Reserve accounts of depository institutions
constitute the bulk of the deposit liabilities of
the Federal Reserve System. Other
institutions, however, also maintain balances
in the Federal Reserve Banks - mainly the
U.S. Treasury, foreign central banks, and
international financial institutions. In general,
when these balances rise, bank reserves fall,
and vice versa. This occurs because the
funds used by these agencies to build up
their deposits in the Reserve Banks ultimately
come from deposits in banks. Conversely,
recipients of payments from these agencies
normally deposit the funds in banks. Through the collection process these banks
receive credit to their reserve accounts.
The most important nonbank depositor is the U.S. Treasury. Part of the Treasury's
operating cash balance is kept in the Federal Reserve Banks; the rest is held in
depository institutions all over the country, in so-called "Treasury tax and loan" (TT&L)
note accounts. (See chart.) Disbursements by the Treasury, however, are made against
its balances at the Federal Reserve. Thus, transfers from banks to Federal Reserve
Banks are made through regularly scheduled "calls" on TT&L balances to assure that sufficient funds are available to cover Treasury checks as they are presented for
payment. (8)
Bank Reserves Decline as the Treasury's Deposits at the Reserve Banks
Calls on TT&L note accounts drain reserves from the banks by the full amount of the
transfer as funds move from the TT&L balances (via charges to bank reserve accounts)
to Treasury balances at the Reserve Banks. Because reserves are not required against
TT&L note accounts, these transfers do not reduce required reserves.(9)
Suppose a Treasury call payable by Bank A amounts to $1,000. The Federal Reserve
Banks are authorized to transfer the amount of the Treasury call from Bank A's reserve
account at the Federal Reserve to the account of the U.S. Treasury at the Federal
Reserve. As a result of the transfer, both reserves and TT&L note balances of the bank
are reduced. On the books of the Reserve Bank, bank reserves decline and Treasury
deposits rise. See illustration 19. This withdrawal of Treasury funds will cause a reserve
deficiency of $1,000 since no reserves are released by the decline in TT&L note
accounts at depository institutions.
Bank Reserves Rise as the Treasury's Deposits at the Reserve Banks
As the Treasury makes expenditures, checks drawn on its balances in the Reserve
Banks are paid to the public, and these funds find their way back to banks in the form of
deposits. The banks receive reserve credit equal to the full amount of these deposits
although the corresponding increase in their required reserves is only 10 percent of this
Suppose a government employee deposits a $1,000 expense check in Bank A. The
bank sends the check to its Federal Reserve Bank for collection. The Reserve Bank
then credits Bank A's reserve account and charges the Treasury's account. As a result,
the bank gains both reserves and deposits. While there is no change in the assets or
total liabilities of the Reserve Banks, the funds drawn away from the Treasury's
balances have been shifted to bank reserve accounts. See illustration 20.
One of the objectives of the TT&L note program, which requires depository institutions
that want to hold Treasury funds for more than one day to pay interest on them, is to
allow the Treasury to hold its balance at the Reserve Banks to the minimum consistent
with current payment needs. By maintaining a fairly constant balance, large drains from
or additions to bank reserves from wide swings in the Treasury's balance that would
require extensive offsetting open market operations can be avoided. Nevertheless,
there are still periods when these fluctuations have large reserve effects. In 1991, for
example, week-to-week changes in Treasury deposits at the Reserve Banks averaged
only $56 million, but ranged from -$4.15 billion to +$8.57 billion.
8When the Treasury's balance at the Federal Reserve rises above expected payment needs, the Treasury may place the excess funds in
TT&L note accounts through a "direct investment." The accounting entries are the same, but of opposite signs, as those shown when funds
are transferred from TT&L note accounts to Treasury deposits at the Fed. back
9Tax payments received by institutions designated as Federal tax depositories initially are credited to reservable demand deposits due to
the U.S. government. Because such tax payments typically come from reservable transaction accounts, required reserves are not materially
affected on this day. On the next business day, however, when these funds are placed either in a nonreservable note account or remitted to
the Federal Reserve for credit to the Treasury's balance at the Fed, required reserves decline. back
End page 18. forwardPage 19.
19 When the Treasury builds up its deposits at the Federal Reserve through "calls"
on TT&L note balances, reserve accounts are reduced. back
Assets Liabilities
Reserve accounts: Bank A . . -1,000
U.S. Treasury deposits . . +1,000
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . -1,000
Treasury tax and loan note account
. . -1,000
(Required . . . . 0)
(Deficit . . 1,000)
20 Checks written on the Treasury's account at the Federal Reserve Bank are
deposited in banks. As these are collected, banks receive credit to their reserve
accounts at the Federal Reserve Banks. back
Assets Liabilities
Reserve accounts: Bank A . . +1,000
U.S. Treasury deposits . . . -1,000
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . +1,000 Private deposits . . +1,000
(Required . . . +100)
(Excess . . . . . +900)
End of page 19. forward
Changes in Federal Reserve Float
A large proportion of checks drawn on banks and deposited in other banks is cleared
(collected) through the Federal Reserve Banks. Some of these checks are credited
immediately to the reserve accounts of the depositing banks and are collected the same
day by debiting the reserve accounts of the banks on which the checks are drawn. All
checks are credited to the accounts of the depositing banks according to availability
schedules related to the time it normally takes the Federal Reserve to collect the
checks, but rarely more than two business days after they are received at the Reserve Banks, even though they may not yet have been collected due to processing,
transportation, or other delays.
The reserve credit given for checks not yet collected is included in Federal Reserve
"float."(10) On the books of the Federal Reserve Banks, balance sheet float, or
statement float as it is sometimes called, is the difference between the asset account
"items in process of collection," and the liability account "deferred credit items."
Statement float is usually positive since it is more often the case that reserve credit is
given before the checks are actually collected than the other way around.
Published data on Federal Reserve float are based on a "reserves-factor" framework
rather than a balance sheet accounting framework. As published, Federal Reserve float
includes statement float, as defined above, as well as float-related "as-of"
adjustments.(11) These adjustments represent corrections for errors that arise in
processing transactions related to Federal Reserve priced services. As-of adjustments
do not change the balance sheets of either the Federal Reserve Banks or an individual
bank. Rather they are corrections to the bank's reserve position, thereby affecting the
calculation of whether or not the bank meets its reserve requirements.
An Increase in Federal Reserve Float Increases Bank Reserves
As float rises, total bank reserves rise by the same amount. For example, suppose Bank
A receives checks totaling $100 drawn on Banks B, C, and D, all in distant cities. Bank
A increases the accounts of its depositors $100, and sends the items to a Federal
Reserve Bank for collection. Upon receipt of the checks, the Reserve Bank increases its
own asset account "items in process of collection," and increases its liability account
"deferred credit items" (checks and other items not yet credited to the sending bank's
reserve accounts). As long as these two accounts move together, there is no change in
float or in total reserves from this source. See illustration 21.
On the next business day (assuming Banks B, C, and D are one-day deferred
availability points), the Reserve Bank pays Bank A. The Reserve Bank's "deferred credit
items" account is reduced, and Bank A's reserve account is increased $100. If these
items actually take more than one business day to collect so that "items in process of
collection" are not reduced that day, the credit to Bank A represents an addition to total
bank reserves since the reserve accounts of Banks B, C, and D will not have been
commensurately reduced.(12) See illustration 22.
A Decline in Federal Reserve Float Reduces Bank Reserves
Only when the checks are actually collected
from Banks B, C, and D does the float
involved in the above example disappear -
"items in process of collection" of the
Reserve Bank decline as the reserve
accounts of Banks B, C, and D are reduced.
See illustration 23.
On an annual average basis, Federal
Reserve float declined dramatically from
1979 through 1984, in part reflecting actions
taken to implement provisions of the
Monetary Control Act that directed the
Federal Reserve to reduce and price float. (See chart.) Since 1984, Federal Reserve float has been fairly stable on an annual
average basis, but often fluctuates sharply over short periods. From the standpoint of
the effect on bank reserves, the significant aspect of float is not that it exists but that its
volume changes in a difficult-to-predict way. Float can increase unexpectedly, for
example, if weather conditions ground planes transporting checks to paying banks for
collection. However, such periods typically are followed by ones where actual
collections exceed new items being received for collection. Thus, reserves gained from
float expansion usually are quite temporary.
10Federal Reserve float also arises from other funds transfer services provided by the Fed, and automatic clearinghouse transfers. back
11As-of adjustments also are used as one means of pricing float, as discussed on page 22, and for nonfloat related corrections, as
discussed on page 35. back
12If the checks received from Bank A had been erroneously assigned a two-day deferred availability, then neither statement float nor
reserves would increase, although both should. Bank A's reserve position and published Federal Reserve float data are corrected for this and
similar errors through as-of adjustments. back
21 When a bank receives deposits in the form of checks drawn on other banks, it can
send them to the Federal Reserve Bank for collection. (Required reserves are not
affected immediately because requirements apply to net transaction accounts, i.e., total
transaction accounts minus both cash items in process of collection and deposits due
from domestic depository institutions.) back
Assets Liabilities
Items in process of collection . . +100 Deferred credit items . . +100
Assets Liabilities
Cash items in process of collection . . +100 Deposits . . . . . . . +100
22 If the reserve account of the payee bank is credited before the reserve accounts of
the paying banks are debited, total reserves increase. back
Assets Liabilities
Deferred credit items . . -100
Reserve account: Bank A . . +100
Assets Liabilities
Cash items in process of collection . . -100
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . . +100
(Required . . . . +10)(Excess. . . . . . +90)
23 But upon actual collection of the items, accounts of the paying banks are charged,
and total reserves decline. back
Assets Liabilities
Items in process
of collection . . . . . . -100
Reserve accounts:
Banks B, C, and D . . . . . -100
BANK B, C, and D
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R.Banks . . -100 Deposits . . . . . . -100
(Required . . . -10)
(Deficit . . . . . 90)
Page 22.
Changes in Service-Related Balances and Adjustments
In order to foster a safe and efficient payments system, the Federal Reserve offers
banks a variety of payments services. Prior to passage of the Monetary Control Act in
1980, the Federal Reserve offered its services free, but only to banks that were
members of the Federal Reserve System. The Monetary Control Act directed the
Federal Reserve to offer its services to all depository institutions, to charge for these
services, and to reduce and price Federal Reserve float.(13) Except for float, all
services covered by the Act were priced by the end of 1982. Implementation of float
pricing essentially was completed in 1983.
The advent of Federal reserve priced services led to several changes that affect the use
of funds in banks' reserve accounts. As a result, only part of the total balances in bank
reserve accounts is identified as "reserve balances" available to meet reserve
requirements. Other balances held in reserve accounts represent "service-related
balances and adjustments (to compensate for float)." Service-related balances are
"required clearing balances" held by banks that use Federal Reserve services while
"adjustments" represent balances held by banks that pay for float with as-of
An Increase in Required Clearing Balances Reduces Reserve Balances
Procedures for establishing and maintaining clearing balances were approved by the
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in February of 1981. A bank may be
required to hold a clearing balance if it has no required reserve balance or if its required
reserve balance (held to satisfy reserve requirements) is not large enough to handle its
volume of clearings. Typically a bank holds both reserve balances and required clearing
balances in the same reserve account. Thus, as required clearing balances are
established or increased, the amount of funds in reserve accounts identified as reserve
balances declines. Suppose Bank A wants to use Federal Reserve services but has a reserve balance
requirement that is less than its expected operating needs. With its Reserve Bank, it is
determined that Bank A must maintain a required clearing balance of $1,000. If Bank A
has no excess reserve balance, it will have to obtain funds from some other source.
Bank A could sell $1,000 of securities, but this will reduce the amount of total bank
reserve balances and deposits. See illustration 24.
Banks are billed each month for the Federal Reserve services they have used with
payment collected on a specified day the following month. All required clearing balances
held generate "earnings credits" which can be used only to offset charges for Federal
Reserve services.(14) Alternatively, banks can pay for services through a direct charge
to their reserve accounts. If accrued earnings credits are used to pay for services, then
reserve balances are unaffected. On the other hand, if payment for services takes the
form of a direct charge to the bank's reserve account, then reserve balances decline.
See illustration 25.
Float Pricing As-Of Adjustments Reduce Reserve Balances
In 1983, the Federal Reserve began pricing explicitly for float,(15) specifically
"interterritory" check float, i.e., float generated by checks deposited by a bank served by
one Reserve Bank but drawn on a bank served by another Reserve Bank. The
depositing bank has three options in paying for interterritory check float it generates. It
can use its earnings credits, authorize a direct charge to its reserve account, or pay for
the float with an as-of adjustment. If either of the first two options is chosen, the
accounting entries are the same as paying for other priced services. If the as-of
adjustment option is chosen, however, the balance sheets of the Reserve Banks and
the bank are not directly affected. In effect what happens is that part of the total
balances held in the bank's reserve account is identified as being held to compensate
the Federal reserve for float. This part, then,
cannot be used to satisfy either reserve
requirements or clearing balance
requirements. Float pricing as-of adjustments
are applied two weeks after the related float
is generated. Thus, an individual bank has
sufficient time to obtain funds from other
sources in order to avoid any reserve
deficiencies that might result from float
pricing as-of adjustments. If all banks
together have no excess reserves, however,
the float pricing as-of adjustments lead to a
decline in total bank reserve balances.
Week-to-week changes in service-related
d that fee schedules cover services such as check clearing and collection, wire transfer, automated clearinghouse,
balances and adjustments can be volatile,
primarily reflecting adjustments to compensate for float. (See chart. ) Since th
changes are known in advance, any undesired impact on reserve balances can be
offset easily through open market operations.
13The Act specifie
settlement, securities safekeeping, noncash collection, Federal Reserve float, and any new services offered. back
14"Earnings credits" are calculated by multiplying the actual average clearing balance held over a maintenance period, up to that required
plus the clearing balance band, times a rate based on the average federal funds rate. The clearing balance band is 2 percent of the required
clearing balance or $25,000, whichever amount is larger. back15While some types of float are priced directly, the Federal Reserve prices other types of float indirectly, for example, by including the cost
of float in the per-item fees for the priced service. back
End of page 22. back
24When Bank A establishes a ce at a Federal Reserve Bank
lling securities, the reserve balances and deposits of other banks decline. back
required clearing balan
by se
Assets Liabilities
U.S. government securitie
Required clearing balance . . +1000
s . . -
Reserve account with F.R.
Assets Liabilities
    balances Bank A . . . . +1000
Reserve account
Reserve balances:
    Other banks . . . . . . . . -1000
Assets Liabilities
Reserve accounts with F.R
    Reserve balances . . . . -1,000
Deposits . . . . . . . -1,000
. Banks:
(Required . . . -100)
(Deficit . . . . . 900)
25 When Bank A is billed monthly for Federal Reserve services used, it can pay for
services by having earnings credits applied and/or by authorizing a direct charge
to its reserve account. Suppose Bank A has accrued earnings credits of $100 but incur
fees of $125. Then both methods would be used. On the Federal Reserve Bank's
books, the liability account "earnings credits due to depository institutions" declines by
$100 and Bank A's reserve account is reduced by $25. Offsetting these entries is a
reduction in the Fed's (other) asset account "accrued service income." On Bank A's
books, the accounting entries might be a $100 reduction to its asset account "earnings
credit due from Federal Reserve Banks" and a $25 reduction in its reserve account,
which are offset by a $125 decline in its liability "accounts payable." While an individu
bank may use different accounting entries, the net effect on reserves is a reduction of
$25, the amount of billed fees that were paid through a direct charge to Bank A's
reserve account. backFEDERAL RESERVE BANK
Assets Liabilities
Accrued service inco
its due to depository
institutions . . . . . . . . -100
Reserve accounts: Bank A . . -25
me . . . . . -125
Earnings cred
Assets Liabilities
Earnings credits due from
Banks . . -100
Accounts payable . . . . . -125
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . . . . -25
Changes in Loans to Depository Institutions
Prior to passage of the Monetary Control Act
t were members of
tem had regular
of 1980, only banks tha
the Federal Reserve Sys
access to the Fed's "discount window." Since
then, all institutions having deposits
reservable under the Act also have been a
to borrow from the Fed. Under conditions set
by the Federal Reserve, loans are av
under three credit programs: adjustment,
seasonal, and extended credit.(16) The
average amount of each type of discount
window credit provided varies over time. (See
erve Bank, it borrows reserves. The
rs in an important way from the cases already
ent cred
When a bank borrows from a Federal Res
acquisition of reserves in this manner diffe
illustrated. Banks normally borrow adjustm it only to avoid reserve deficiencies
managements's judgment that the bank's reserves will be sufficient to provide the
or overdrafts, not to obtain excess reserves. Adjustment credit borrowings, ther
are reserves on which expansion has already taken place. How can this happen?
In their efforts to accommodate customers as well as to keep fully invested, banks
frequently make loans in anticipation of inflows of loanable funds from deposits or
money market sources. Loans add to bank deposits but not to bank reserves. Unle
excess reserves can be tapped, banks will not have enough reserves to meet the
reserve requirements against the new deposits. Likewise, individual banks may inc
deficiencies through unexpected deposit outflows and corresponding losses of reserve
through clearings. Other banks receive these deposits and can increase their loans
accordingly, but the banks that lost them may not be able to reduce outstanding loans
or investments in order to restore their reserves to required levels within the required
time period. In either case, a bank may borrow reserves temporarily from its Reserve
Suppose a customer of Bank A wants to borrow $100. On the basis of the necessary funds, the customer is accommodated. The loan is made by increasing
"loans" and crediting the customer's deposit account. Now Bank A's deposits have
er deposits,
increased by $100. However, if reserves are insufficient to support the high
Bank A will have a $10 reserve deficiency, assuming requirements of 10 percent. S
illustration 26. Bank A may temporarily borrow the $10 from its Federal Reserve Ba
which makes a loan by increasing its asset item "loans to depository institutions" an
crediting Bank A's reserve account. Bank A gains reserves and a corresponding liability
"borrowings from Federal Reserve Banks." See illustration 27
To repay borrowing, a bank must gain reserves through either deposit growth or asset
liquidation. See illustration 28. A bank makes payment by authorizing a debit to its
reserve account at the Federal Reserve Bank. Repayment of borrowing, therefore,
reduces both reserves and "borrowings from Federal Reserve Banks." See illustration
Unlike loans made under the seasonal and extended credit programs, adjustment c
loans to banks generally must be repaid within a short time since such loans are ma
primarily to cover needs created by temporary fluctuations in deposits and lo
ual patterns. Adjustments, such as sales of securities, made by some banks to "get
ts control of the rate charged banks for
ans relativ
to us
out of the window" tend to transfer reserve shortages to other banks and may force
these other banks to borrow, especially in periods of heavy credit demands. Even at
times when the total volume of adjustment credit borrowing is rising, some individual
banks are repaying loans while others are borrowing. In the aggregate, adjustment
credit borrowing usually increases in periods of rising business activity when the pub
demands for credit are rising more rapidly than nonborrowed reserves are being
provided by System open market operations.
Discount Window as a Tool of Monetary Policy
Although reserve expansion through borrowing is initiated by banks, the amount of
reserves that banks can acquire in this way ordinarily is limited by the Federal Re
administration of the discount window and by i
adjustment credit loans - the discount rate.(17) Loans are made only for approved
ere is
further to its
s to
purposes, and other reasonably available sources of funds must have been fully use
Moreover, banks are discouraged from borrowing adjustment credit too frequently or for
extended time periods. Raising the discount rate tends to restrain borrowing by
increasing its cost relative to the cost of alternative sources of reserves.
Discount window administration is an important adjunct to the other Federal Reserve
tools of monetary policy. While the privilege of borrowing offers a "safety valve" to
temporarily relieve severe strains on the reserve positions of individual banks, th
generally a strong incentive for a bank to repay borrowing before adding
loans and investments.
16Adjustment credit is short-term credit available to meet temporary needs for funds. Seasonal credit is available for longer period
smaller institutions having regular seasonal needs for funds. Extended credit may be made available to an institution or group of institution
experiencing sustained liquidity pressures. The reserves provided through extended credit borrowing typically are offset by open market
operations. back
17Flexible discount rates related to rates on money market sources of funds currently are charged for seasonal credit and for extended
credit outstanding more than 30 days. back26A bank may incur a reserve deficiency if it makes loans when it has no excess
reserves. back
Assets Liabilities
Loans . . . . . . . Deposits . . . . . . . . +100
Reserves with F. R. Banks . . no change
(Required . . . . +10)
. . +100
(Deficit . . . . . . . 10)
27 Borrowing from a Federal Reserve Bank to cover such a deficit is accompanied by
a direct credit to the bank's reserve account. back
Assets Liabilities
Loans to depositor
Bank A . . . . . . . . +10
unts: Bank A . . +10
y institution:
Reserve acco
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . owings from F.R.Banks . . +10
No further expansion can take place on the new reserves because they are all needed
st the deposits created i
+10 Borr
again n (26).
2 Before a bank can repay borrowings, it must gain reserves from some other
source. back
Assets Liabilities
Securities . . . . . .
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . . +10
. -10
29 Repayment of borrowings from the Federal Reserve Bank reduces reserves. back
Assets Liabilities
Loans to depository
Bank A . . . . . . . . . -10
nts: Bank A . . . -10
Reserve accou
BAN AAssets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. Bank . . -10 Borrowings from F.R. Bank . . -10
Thus far we have described transactions that affect the volume of bank reserves and
of the banks to expand their
posit expansion or contraction by
this authority can be
% to 9%
against transaction accounts over $25 million
at 12 percent and that against nonpersonal time deposits at 3 percent. The initial $25
change each year in line with 80 percent of
in Reserve Requirements
the impact these transactions have upon the capacity
assets and deposits. It is also possible to influence de
changing the required minimum ratio of reserves to deposits.
The authority to vary required reserve percentages for banks that were members of
Federal Reserve System (member banks) was first granted by Congress to the Federal
Reserve Board of Governors in 1933. The ranges within which
exercised have been changed several times, most recently in the Monetary Control Act
of 1980, which provided for the establishment of reserve requirements that apply
uniformly to all depository institutions. The 1980 statute established the following limi
     On transaction accounts
            first $25 million . . . . . . . . . 3%
            above $25 million . . . . .  8% to 14%
On nonpersonal time deposits . . . . 0
The 1980 law initially set the requirement
million "low reserve tranche" was indexed to
the growth in transaction accounts at all depository institutions. (For example, the low
reserve tranche was increased from $41.1 million for 1991 to $42.2 million for 1992.) In
addition, reserve requirements can be imposed on certain nondeposit sources of funds,
such as Eurocurrency liabilities.(18) (Initially the Board set a 3 percent requirement on
Eurocurrency liabilities.)
The Garn-St. Germain Act of 1982 modified these provisions somewhat by exempting
from reserve requirements the first $2 million of total reservable liabilities at each
depository institution. Similar to the low reserve tranche adjustment for transaction
e Board
l time
accounts, the $2 million "reservable liabilities exemption amount" was indexed to 80
percent of annual increases in total reservable liabilities. (For example, the exemp
amount was increased from $3.4 million for 1991 to $3.6 million for 1992.)
The Federal Reserve Board is authorized to change, at its discretion, the percentage
requirements on transaction accounts above the low reserve tranche and on
nonpersonal time deposits within the ranges indicated above. In addition, th
may impose differing reserve requirements on nonpersonal time deposits based on the
maturity of the deposit. (The Board initially imposed the 3 percent nonpersona
deposit requirement only on such deposits with original maturities of under four years
During the phase-in period, which ended in 1984 for most member banks and in 1987
for most nonmember institutions, requirements changed according to a predetermine
schedule, without any action by the Federal Reserve Board. Apart from these legally
prescribed changes, once the Monetary Control Act provisions were implemented in lat
1980, the Board did not change any reserve requirement ratios until late 1990. (The
original maturity break for requirements on nonpersonal time deposits was shortenedseveral times, once in 1982, and twice in 1983, in connection with actions taken to
deregulate rates paid on deposits.) In December 1990, the Board reduced reserve
requirements against nonpersonal time deposits and Eurocurrency liabilities from 3
percent to zero. Effective in April 1992, the reserve requirement on transaction acco
above the low reserve tranche was lowered from 12 percent to 10 percent.
When reserve requirements are lowered, a portion of banks' existing holdings of
required reserves becomes excess reserves and may be loaned or invested. For
example, with a requirement of 10 percent, $10 of reserves would be require
d to
support $100 of deposits. See illustration 30. But a reduction in the legal requirem
8 percent would tie up only $8, freeing $2 out of each $10 of reserves for use in cr
additional bank credit and deposits. See illustration 31
ent to
An increase in reserve requirements, on the other hand, absorbs additional reserve
funds, and banks which have no excess reserves must acquire reserves or reduce
loans or investments to avoid a reserve deficiency. Thus an increase in the requirement
from 10 percent to 12 percent would boost required reserves to $12 for each $100 of
deposits. Assuming banks have no excess reserves, this would force them to liquida
assets until the reserve deficiency was eliminated, at which point deposits would be
one-sixth less than before. See illustration 32.
Reserve Requirements and Monetary Policy
The power to change reserve requirements, like purchases and sales of securities by
the Federal Reserve, is an instru ary policy. Even a small change in
can have a large and widespread
s (or
t increases or decreases in reserves from any
rves, they are unlikely to be affected by any
n any
ents up
be imposed.
ment of monet
requirements - say, one-half of one percentage point -
impact. Other instruments of monetary policy have sometimes been used to cushion th
initial impact of a reserve requirement change. Thus, the System may sell securitie
purchase less than otherwise would be appropriate) to absorb part of the reserves
released by a cut in requirements.
It should be noted that in addition to their initial impact on excess reserves, changes in
requirements alter the expansion power of every reserve dollar. Thus, such change
affect the leverage of all subsequen
source. For this reason, changes in the total volume of bank reserves actually held
between points in time when requirements differ do not provide an accurate indication
the Federal Reserve's policy actions.
Both reserve balances and vault cash are eligible to satisfy reserve requirements. To
the extent some institutions normally hold vault cash to meet operating needs in
amounts exceeding their required rese
change in requirements.
18The 1980 statute also provides that "under extraordinary circumstances" reserve requirements can be imposed at any level o
liability of depository institutions for as long as six months; and, if essential for the conduct of monetary policy, supplemental requirem
to 4 percent of transaction accounts can back
ement, $10 of reserves are needed to support
each $100 of deposits. back
30Under a 10 percent reserve requir
Assets LiabilitiesLoans and investments . . Deposits . . . . . . . 100
31 With a reduction in requirements from 10 percent to 8 percent, fewer reserves are
required against the same volume of deposits so that excess reserves are created.
can be loaned or invested. back
. 90
Reserves . . . . . . . . 10
(Required . . . . 10)
(Excess. . . . . . . 0)
Assets Liabilities
Loans and investments . . . . Deposits . . . . . . . 100
(Required . . . . . 8)
. 90
Reserves . . . . . . . . 10
(Excess . . . . . . 2)
Assets Liabilities
No chan change
There is no change in the total amount of reserves.
ge No
32 With an increase in requirements from 10 percent to 12 percent, more reserves
are required against the same volume of deposits. The resulting deficiencies must be
covered by liquidation of loans or investments... back
Assets Liabilities
Loans and investments . . . . Deposits . . . . . . . . . 100
Reserves . . . . . . . . . 10
. 90
(Required. . . . . 12)
(Deficit . . . . . . . 2)
Assets Liabilities
No chan change
...because the total amount of bank reserves remains unchanged.
ge No
Changes in Foreign-Related Factors
The Federal Reserve has engaged in foreign currency operations for its own account
urrency transactions of the U.S.
s for customers such as foreign
central banks. Perhaps the most publicized type of foreign currency transaction
since 1962. In addition, it acts as the agent for foreign c
Treasury, and since the 1950s has executed transactionundertaken by the Federal Reserve is intervention in foreign exchange markets.
Intervention, however, is only one of several foreign-related transactions that have the
potential for increasing or decreasing reserves of banks, thereby affecting money and
credit growth.
Several foreign-related transactions and their effects on U.S. bank reserves are
described in the next few pages. Included are some but not all of the types of
transactions used. The key point to remember, however, is that the Federal Reserve
routinely offsets any undesired change in U.S. bank reserves resulting from foreignit
related transactions. As a result, such transactions do not affect money and cred
growth in the United States.
Foreign Exchange Intervention for the Federal Reserve's Own Account
When the Federal Reserve intervenes in foreign exchange markets to sell dollars for
own account,(19) it acquires foreign currency assets and reserves of U.S. banks in
rise. In contrast, when the Fe
d intervenes to buy dollars for its own account, it uses
foreign currency assets to pay for the dollars purchased and reserves of U.S. banks
initially fall.
Consider the example where the Federal Reserve intervenes in the foreign exchange
markets to sell $100 of U.S. dollars for its own account. In this transaction, the Feder
Reserve buys a foreign-currency-denominated deposit of a U.S. bank held at a foreig
commercial and pays for this foreign currency deposit by crediting $100 to the
U.S. bank's reserve account at the Fed. The Federal Reserve deposits the foreign
currency proceeds in its account at a Foreign Central Bank, and as this transaction
clears, the foreign bank's reserves at the Foreign Central Bank decline. See illustration
33. Initially, then, the Fed's intervention sale of dollars in this example leads to an
increase in Federal Reserve Bank assets denominated in foreign currencies and an
increase in reserves of U.S. banks.
Suppose instead that the Federal R
ts to
ases a
intervenes in the foreign exchange marke
buy $100 of U.S. dollars, again for its own
account. The Federal Reserve purch
dollar-denominated deposit of a foreign ban
held at a U.S. bank, and pays for this dollar
deposit by drawing on its foreign currency
deposit at a Foreign Central Bank. (The
Federal Reserve might have to sell some of its
foreign currency investments to build up its
deposits at the Foreign Central Bank, but th
would not affect U.S. bank reserves.) As
Federal Reserve's account at the Foreign
k's reserves at the Foreign Central Bank
foreign bank at the U.S. bank declines as the
ollars to the Federal Reserve via a $100 charg
erve. See illustration 34. Initially, then, the
Fed's intervention purchase of dollars in this example leads to a decrease in Fede
Reserve Bank assets denominated in foreign currencies and a decrease in reserves of
U.S. banks.
Central Bank is charged, the foreign ban
increase. In turn, the dollar deposit of the
U.S bank transfers ownership of those d
to its reserve account at the Federal Res
ralAs noted earlier, the Federal Reserve offsets or "sterilizes" any undesired change in
U.S. bank reserves stemming from foreign exchange intervention sales or purchases
dollars. For example, Federal Reserve Bank assets denominated in foreign currencies
rose dramatic
ally in 1989, in part due to significant U.S. intervention sales of dollars.
ays prior to the end of the month, the Fed's foreign currency assets are
 if their value has
n the
(See chart.) Total reserves of U.S. banks, however, declined slightly in 1989 as open
market operations were used to "sterilize" the initial intervention-induced increase in
Monthly Revaluation of Foreign Currency Assets
Another set of accounting transactions that affects Federal Reserve Bank assets
denominated in foreign currencies is the monthly revaluation of such assets. Two
business d
increased if their market value has appreciated or decreased
depreciated. The offsetting accounting entry on the Fed's balance sheet is to the
"exchange-translation account" included in "other F.R. liabilities." These changes i
Fed's balance sheet do not alter bank reserves directly. However, since the Federa
Reserve turns over its net earnings to the Treasury each week, the revaluation
the amount of the Fed's payment to the Treasury, which in turn influences the size
TT&L calls and bank reserves. (See explanation on pages 18 and 19.
Foreign-Related Transactions for the Treasury
U.S. intervention in foreign exchange markets by the Federal Reserve usually is divided
between its own account and the Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF)
account. The impact on U.S. bank reserves from the interv action is the
hases of dollars drain
ention trans
same for both - sales of dollars add to reserves while purc
reserves. See illustration 35. Depending upon how the Treasury pays for, or finances,
its part of the intervention, however, the Federal Reserve may not need to conduc
offsetting open market operations.
The Treasury typically keeps only minimal balances in the ESF's account at the F
Reserve. Therefore, the Treasury generally has to convert some ESF assets into dollar
or foreign currency deposits in order to pay for its part of an intervention transaction
Likewise, the dollar or foreign curre
ncy deposits acquired by the ESF in the intervention
typically are drawn down when the ESF invests the proceeds in earning assets.
For example, to finance an intervention sale of dollars (such as that shown in illustration
35), the Treasury might redeem some of the U.S. government securities issued to the
ESF, resulting in a transfer of funds from the Treasury's (general account) balances at
the Federal Reserve to the ESF's account at the Fed. (On the Federal Reserve's
balance sheet, the ESF's account is included in the liability category "other deposits.")
The Treasury, however, would need to replenish its Fed balances to desired levels,
perhaps by increasing the size of TT&L calls - a transaction that drains U.S. bank
reserves. The intervention and financing transactions essentially occur simultaneo
As a result, U.S. bank reserves added in the intervention sale of dollars are offset by th
drain in U.S. bank reserves from the TT&L call. See illustrations 35 and 36. Thus, no
Federal Reserve offsetting actions would be needed if the Treasury financed the
intervention sale of dollars through a TT&L call on banks.
Offsetting actions by the Federal Reserve would be needed, however, if the Treasury
restored deposits affected by foreign-related transactions through a number of
transactions involving the Federal Reserve. These include the Treasury's issuance of SDR or gold certificates to the Federal Reserve and the "warehousing" of foreign
currencies by the Federal Reserve.
SDR certificates. Occasionally the Treasury acquires dollar deposits for the ESF's
account by issuing certificates to the Federal Reserve against allocations of Spe
Drawing Rights (SDRs) received from the International Monetary Fund.(21)
example, $3.5 billion of SDR certificates were issued in 1989, and another $1.5 bil
1990. This "monetization" of SDRs is
lion in
reflected on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet
en the
as an increase in its asset "SDR certificate account" and an increase in its liability "
deposits (ESF account)."
If the ESF uses these dollar deposits directly in an intervention sale of dollars, th
intervention-induced increase in U.S. bank reserves is not altered. See illustrations 35
and 37. If not needed immediately for an intervention transaction, the ESF might use the
dollar deposits from issuance of SDR certificates to buy securities from the Treasury,
resulting in a transfer of funds from the ESF's account at the Federal Reserve to the
issued to the Federal Reserve in "monetizing"
netary gold stock, and paid for from
sale at the market price to meet demands of
by "warehousing" foreign currencies with the Fed. (For example, $7 billion of foreign
Treasury's account at the Fed. U.S. bank reserves would then increase as the Treasury
spent the funds or transferred them to banks through a direct investment to TT&L note
Gold stock and gold certificates. Changes in
the U.S. monetary gold stock used to be an
important factor affecting bank reserves.
However, the gold stock and gold certificates
gold, have not changed significantly since the
early 1970s. (See chart.)
Prior to August 1971, the Treasury bough
and sold gold for a fixed price in terms of U.S.
dollars, mainly at the initiative of fo
central banks and governments. Gold
purchases by the Treasury were added to
U.S. mo
its account at the Federal Reserve. As the
banks, reserves increased. To replenish it
gold certificates to the Federal Reserve an
Treasury sales of gold have the opposite e
Treasury's account and reserves decline. B
sellers deposited the Treasury's checks in
s balance at the Fed, the Treasury issued
d received a credit to its deposit balance.
ffect. Buyers' checks are credited to the
ecause the official U.S. gold stock is now
fully "monetized," the Treasury currently has to use its deposits to retire gold certificates
issued to the Federal Reserve whenever gold is sold. However, the value of gold
certificates retired, as well as the net contraction in bank reserves, is based on the
official gold price. Proceeds from a gold
domestic buyers likely would be greater. The difference represents the Treasury's p
which, when spent, restores deposits and bank reserves by a like amount.
While the Treasury no longer purchases gold and sales of gold have been limited,
increases in the official price of gold have added to the value of the gold stock. (Th
official gold price was last raised from $38.00 to $42.22 per troy ounce, in 1973.)
Warehousing. The Treasury sometimes acquires dollar deposits at the Federal Reservcurrencies were warehoused in 1989.) The Treasury or ESF acquires foreign currency
assets as a result of transactions such as intervention sales of dollars or sales of U.S
government securities denominated in foreign currencies. When the Federal Reserve
warehouses foreign currencies for the Treasury,(22) "Federal Reserve Banks assets
denominated in foreign currencies" increase as do Treasury deposits at the Fed. As
ek. For example, foreign deposits at the
these deposits are spent, reserves of U.S. banks rise. In contrast, the Treasury likely
will have to increase the size of TT&L calls - a transaction that drains reserves - when
repurchases warehoused foreign currencies from the Federal Reserve. (In 1991, $2.5
billion of warehoused foreign currencies were repurchased.) The repurchase transactio
is reflected on the Fed's balance sheet as declines in both Treasury deposits at the
Federal Reserve and Federal Reserve Bank assets denominated in foreign currencies
Transactions for Foreign Customers
Many foreign central banks and governmen
maintain deposits at the Federal Reserve to
facilitate dollar-denominated transactions.
These "foreign deposits" on the liability side
of the Fed's balance sheet typically are he
at minimal levels that vary little from week to
Federal Reserve averaged only $237 million
in 1991, ranging from $178 million to $319
million on a weekly average basis. Change
in foreign deposits are small because foreign
customers "manage" their Federal Reserve
balances to desired levels daily by buying
and selling U.S. government securities. The
nagement" transactions is reflected, in part,
le U.S. government securities held in
customers. (See chart.) The net effect of
sactions usually is to leave U.S. bank
f securities. Foreign customers of the Fede
nts, including those for intervention sales of
dollars by foreign central banks, by drawing down their deposits at the Federal Reserve
As these funds are deposited in U.S. banks and cleared, reserves of U.S. banks r
See illustration 38. However, if payments from their accounts at the Federal Reserve
lower balances to below desired levels, foreign customers will replenish their Fed
Reserve deposits by s
extent of these foreign customer "cash ma
by large and frequent changes in marketab
custody by the Federal Reserve for foreign
foreign customers' cash management tran
reserves unchanged.
Managing foreign deposits through sales o
Reserve make dollar-denominated payme
elling U.S. government securities. Acting as their agent, the
Federal Reserve usually executes foreign customers' sell orders in the market. As
buyers pay for the securities by drawing down deposits at U.S. banks, reserves of U.S.
banks fall and offset the increase in reserves from the disbursement transactions. The
net effect is to leave U.S. bank reserves unchanged when U.S. government securities
customers are sold in the market. See illustrations 38 and 39. Occasionally, however,
the Federal Reserve executes foreign customers' sell orders with the System's accoun
When this is done, the rise in reserves from the foreign customers' disbursement of
funds remains in place. See illustration 38 and 40. The Federal reserve might choos
e toexecute sell orders with the System's account if an increase in reserves is desired for
domestic policy reasons.
Managing foreign deposits through purchases of securitites. Foreign customers of the
Federal Reserve also receive a variety of dollar denominated payments, including
proceeds from intervention purchases of dollars by foreign central banks, that are drawn
on U.S. banks. As these funds are credited to foreign deposits at the Federal Reserv
reserves of U.S. banks decline. But if receipts of dollar-denominated payments raise
their deposits at the Federal Reserve to levels higher than desired, foreign customers
will buy U.S. government
securities. The net effect generally is to leave U.S. bank
reserves unchanged when the U.S. government securities are purchased in the market
Using the swap network. Occasionally, foreign central banks acquire dollar deposits
activating the "swap" network, which consists of reciprocal short-term credit
arrangements between the Federal Reserve and certain foreign central banks. When a
foreign central bank draws on its swap line at the Federal Reserve, it immediately
obtains a dollar deposit at the Fed in exchange for foreign currencies, and agrees to
reverse the exchange sometime in the future. On the Federal Reserve's balance sh
activation of the swap network is reflected as an increase in Federal Reserve Bank
assets denominated in foreign currencies and an increase in the liability category
"foreign deposits." When the swap line is repaid, both of these accounts decl
Reserves of U.S. banks will rise when the foreign central bank spends its dollar
proceeds from the swap drawing. See illustration 41. In contrast, reserves of U.S. b
will fall as the foreign central bank rebuilds its deposits at the Federal Reserve in orde
to repay a swap drawing.
The accounting entries and impact of U.S. bank reserves are the same if the Federa
Reserve uses the swap network to borrow and repay foreign currencies. However,
Federal Reserve has not activated the swap network in recent years.
19Overall responsibility for U.S. intervention in foreign exchange markets rests with the U.S Treasury. Foreign exchange transactions for
the Federal Reserve's account are carried out under directives issued by the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee within the general
framework of exchange rate policy established by the U.S. Treasury in consultation with the Fed. They are implemented at the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York, typically at the
same time that similar transactions are executed for the Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Fund.
20Americans traveling to foreign countries engage in "foreign exchange" transactions whenever they obtain foreign coins and paper
currency in exchange for U.S. coins and currency. However, most foreign exchange transactions do not involve
coins and currency. Rather, most of these transactions represent the buying and selling of foreign currencies by
the physical exchange of
 exchanging one bank
deposit denominated in one currency for another bank deposit denominated in another currency. For ease of exposition, the examples
assume that U.S. banks and foreign banks are the market participants in the intervention transactions, but the impact on reserves would be
the same if the U.S. or foreign public were involved. back
21SDRs were created in 1970 for use by governments in official balance of payments transactions. back
22Technically, warehousing consists of two parts: the Federal Reserve's agreement to purchase foreign currency assets from the Treasury
or ESF for dollar deposits now, and the Treasury's agreement to repurchase the foreign currencies sometime in the future. back
33When the Federal Reserve intervenes to sell dollars for its own account, it pays for
a foreign-currency-denominated deposit of a U.S. bank at a foreign commercial bank by
currency asset in
objectives. back
crediting the reserve account of the U.S. bank, and acquires a foreign
the form of a deposit at a Foreign Central Bank. The Federal Reserve, however, will
offset the increase in U.S. bank reserves if it is inconsistent with domestic policyFEDERAL RESERVE BANK
Assets Liabilities
Deposits at Foreign Central Bank . . +100 Reserves: U.S. bank . . +100
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R
Deposits at foreign bank . . -100
. Bank . . +100
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with
Deposits of U.S. bank . . -100
Foreign Central Bank . . -100
Assets Liabilities
Deposits of F.R. Banks . . . +100
Reserves of foreign bank . . . -100
34 When the Federal Reserve intervenes to buy dollars for its own account, it draws
down its foreign currency deposits at a foreign Central Bank to pay for a dollardenominated deposit of a foreign bank at a U.S. tion in
reserves of the U.S. bank. This reduction in reserves will be offset by the Federal
Reserve if it is inconsistent with domestic polic
bank, which leads to a contrac
y objectives. back
Assets Liabilities
Deposits at Foreign Central Bank . -100 Reserves: U. S. bank . . -100
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. reign bank . . -100
Bank . . -100 Deposits of fo
Assets Liabilities
deposits at U.S. b
Reserves with Foreign Central Bank . +100
ank . . . -100
Assets Liabilities
Deposits of F.R. Banks . . -100Reserves of foreign bank . . +100
35 In an intervention sale o , deposits of the ESF at the
Federal Reserve are used to pay for a foreign currency deposit of a U.S. bank at a
foreign bank, and the foreign currency proceeds are deposited in an account at a
Foreign Central Bank. U.S. bank reserves increase as a result of this intervention
transaction back
f dollars for the U.S. Treasury
Assets Liabilities
Deposits at F.R. Bank . . . . -100
Deposits at Foreign Central Bank . . +100
U. S. Treasury
Assets Liabilities
No c No
hange change
Assets Liabilities
eserves: U.S. bank . . . +100
Other deposits: ESF . . . -100
Assets bilities
Reserves with F.R. Bank . . . +100
Deposits at foreign bank . . . -100
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with Foreign Central Bank . -100 Deposits of U.S. bank . -100
Assets Liabilities
Deposits of ESF . . . +100
Reserves of foreign bank . . -100
36Concurrently, the Treasu on transaction in (35). The
Treasury might build up deposits in the ESF's account at the Federal Reserve by
redeeming securities issued to the ESF, and replenish its own (general account)
deposits at the Federal Reserve to desired levels by issuing a call on TT&L note
ry must finance the interventiaccounts. This set of transactions drains reserves of U.S. banks by the same amount as
the intervention in (35) added to U.S. bank reserves. back
Assets Liabilities
U.S govt. securities . . . -100
Deposits at F.R. Banks . . +100
U. S. Treasury
Assets Liabilities
TT&L accts . . . . . . . . . -100 Securities issued ESF . . . -100
(to ESF . . . . . . .
eposits at F.R. Banks . . . net 0
(from U.S bank . . +100)
. -100)
Assets Liabilities
Reserves: U.S. bank . . . -100
Treas. deps: . . . . net 0
(from U.S. bank . +100)
SF. . . . . . . . . -100)
Other deposits: ESF . . . . +100
(to E
Assets L
Reserves with F.R. Bank . . -100
TT&L accts . . . . . -100
37Alternatively, the Treasury might ntervention in (35) by issuing SDR
certificates to the Federal Reserve, a transaction that would not disturb the addition of
U.S. bank reserves in intervention (35). The Federal Reserve, however, would offset
any undesired change in U.S. bank reserves. back
finance the i
Assets Liabilities
Deposits at F.R. Banks . . +100      SDR certificates issued to
F.R. Banks . . . . . . +100
U. S. Treasury
Assets Liabilities
No change No change
SDR certificate account . . +100 Other deposits: ESF . . . +100
Assets bilities
No change
No change
38When a Foreign Central Bank m denominated payment from its
account at the Federal Reserve, the recipient deposits the funds in a U.S. bank. As the
payment order clears, U.S. bank reserves rise. back
Assets Liabilities
Reserves: U.S. bank . . . +100
Foreign deposits . . . . -100
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . +100
Deposits . . . . . . . . +100
Assets Liabilities
Deposits at F.R. Banks . . . . -100 Accounts payable . . . . . -100
39 If a decline in its deposits at the Federal Reserve lowers the balance below
desired levels, the Foreign Central Bank will request that the Federal Reserve sell U.S.
government securities for it. If the sell order is executed in the market, reserves of U.S.
banks will fall by the same smount as reserves were increased in (38). back
Assets Liabilities
Reserves: U.S. bank . . . . -100
Foreign deposits . . . . . +100
Assets Liabilities
Reserves with F.R. Banks . . . -100 Depo
sits of securities buyer . . -100
Assets Liabilities
Deposits at F.R. Banks . . +100U.S. govt. securities . . -100
40 If the sell order is executed with the Federal Reserve's account, however, the
increase in res ace. The Federal Reserve might choose
to execute the fore
reserves is desired for domestic policy reasons.
erves from (38) will remain in pl
ign customer's sell order with the System's account if an increase in
Assets Liabilities
U.S. govt. securities . . . . +100 Foreign deposits . . . . +100
U. S. Bank
Assets bilities
No change
No change
Assets Liabilities
Deposits at F.R. Banks . . . +100
U.S. govt. securities . . . . . -100
41 When a Foreign Central Bank draws on a "swap" line, it receives a credit to its
dollar deposits at the Federal Reserve in exchange for a foreign currency deposit
credited to the
the swap drawing transaction, but will increase as the Foreign Central Bank uses the
as in (38). back
Federal Reserve's account. Reserves of U.S. banks are not affected by
Assets Liabilities
deposits at Foreign Central Bank . . +100 Foreign deposits . . . . +100
U. S. Bank
Assets bilities
No c No
hange change
Assets Liabilities
Deposits at F.R. Banks . . . +100 Deposits of F.R. Banks . . . +100
Federal Reserve Actions Affecting Its Holdings of U. S.
Government SecuritiesIn discussing various factors that affect reserves, it was often indicated that the Federal
Reserve offsets undesired changes in reserves through open market operations, that is,
cted when an increase or decrease in another
ings of
by buying and selling U.S. government securities in the market. However, outright
purchases and sales of securities by the Federal Reserve in the market occur
infrequently, and typically are condu
factor is expected to persist for some time. Most market actions taken to implement
changes in monetary policy or to offset changes in other factors are accomplished
through the use of transactions that change reserves temporarily. In addition, there are
off-market transactions the Federal Reserve sometimes uses to change its hold
U.S. government securities and affect reserves. (Recall the example in illustrations
and 40.) The impact on reserves of various Federal Reserve transactions in U.S.
government and federal agency securities is explained below. (See table for a
Outright transactions. Ownership of securities is transferred permanently to the buyer
in an outright transaction, and the funds used in the transaction are transferred
permanently to the seller. As a result, an outright purchase of securities by the Federal
Reserve from a dealer in the market adds reserves permanently wh sale
ount. In
ies. Thus System RPs increase reserves only temporarily. Reserves are drained
ile an outright
of securities to a dealer drains reserves permanently. The Federal Reserve can
the same net effect on reserves through off-market transactions where it executes
outright sell and purchase orders from customers internally with the System acc
contrast, there is no impact on reserves if the Federal Reserve fills customers' outright
sell and purchase orders in the market.
Temporary transactions. Repurchase agreements (RPs), and associated matched
sale-purchase agreements (MSPs), transfer ownership of securities and use of fund
temporarily. In an RP transaction, one party sells securities to another and agrees to
buy them back on a specified future date. In an MSP transaction, one party buys
securities from another and agrees to sell them back on a specified future date. In
essence, then, and RP for one party in the transaction works like an MSP for the othe
When the Federal Reserve executes what is referred to as a "System RP," it acquires
securities in the market from dealers who agree to buy them back on a specified futur
date 1 to 15 days later. Both the System's portfolio of securities and bank reserves
increased during the term of the RP, but decline again when the dealers repurchase the
temorarily when the Fed executes what is known as a "System MSP." A System MSP
works like a System RP, only in the opposite directions. In a system MSP, the Fed sells
securities to dealers in the market and agrees to buy them back on a specified day. The
System's holdings of securities and bank reserves are reduced during the term of the
MSP, but both increase when the Federal Reserve buys back the securities.
Impact on reserves of Federal Reserve transactions
in U.S. government and federal agency securities
Federal Reserve Transactions                Reserve Impact
Outright purchase of Securities   - From dealer in market                   Permanent increase
  - To fill customer sell orders            Permanent increase
  (If customer buy orders filled in market)  (No impact)
- To dealer in market Permanent decrease
ternally Permanent decrease
- With dealer in market in System RP Temporary increase
(Temporary increase*)
edemption of Maturing Securities
nt increase**
nternally is the same as on the prior day.
from buying
Outright Sales of Securites
- To fill customer buy orders in
  (If customer buy orders filled in market)  (No impact)
Repurchase Agreements (RPs)
Matched Sale-Purchase Agreements (MSPs)
- With dealer in market in a system MSP Temporary decreas
  - To fill customer RP orders internally   No impact*
(If customer RP orders passed to market
as customer related RPs)
- Replace total amount maturing No
  - Redeem part of amount maturing          Permanent decrease
- Buy more than amount maturing** Permane
*Impact based on assumption that the amount of RP orders do
**The Federal Reserve currently is prohibited by law
securities directly from the Treasury, except to replace maturing
s to fill foreign customers' RP orders internally with
e System account. Considered in isolation, a Federal Reserve MSP transaction with
hese transactions occur every
e from day to day. Thus, on any
y, the Fed both buys back securities from customers to fulfill the prior day's
SP, and sells them about the same amount of securities to satisfy that day's
The Federal Reserve also uses MSP
customers would drain reserves temporarily. However, t
day, with the total amount of RP orders being fairly stabl
given da
agreement. As a result, there generally is little or no impact on reserves when the Fed
uses MSPs to fill customer RP orders internally with the System account. Sometimes,
however, the Federal Reserve fills some of the RP orders internally and the rest in the
market. The part that is passed on to the market is known as a "customer-related RP."
The Fed ends up repurchasing more securities from customers to complete the prior
day's MSP than it sells to them in that day's MSP. As a result, customer-related RPs
add reserves temporarily.
Maturing securities. As securities held by the Federal Reserve mature, they are
exchanged for new securities. Usually the total amount maturing is replaced so that
there is no impact on reserves since the Fed's total holdings remain the same.
Occasionally, however, the Federal Reserve will exchange only part of the amount
maturing. Treasury deposits decline as payment for the redeemed securities is made,
and reserves fall as the Treasury replenishes its deposits at the Fed through TT&L caThe reserve drain is permanent. If the Fed were to buy more than the amount of
securities maturing directly from the Treasury, then reserves would increase
permanently. However, the Federal Reserve currently is prohibited by law from
securities directly from the Treasury, except to replace maturing issues.
Page 35.
Miscellaneous Factors Affecting Bank Reserves
The factors described below normally have negligible effects on bank reserves because
changes in them either occur very slowly or tend to be balanced by concurrent changes
in other factors. But at times they may require offsetting action.
Treasury Currency Outstanding
.S. notes
nding currently increases only through issuance
18 and 19.)
anks replenish these deposits. Such transfers
ts in
ldings of the Treasury decline, on the other hand, these funds move
e bank reserves.
its in U.S. banks, or indirectly by the
do have accounts at U.S. banks. Such
Treasury currency outstanding consists of coins, silver certificates and U
originally issued by the Treasury, and other currency originally issued by
banks and by Federal Reserve Banks before July 1929 but for which the Treasury has
redemption responsibility. Short-run changes are small, and their effects on bank
reserves are indirect.
The amount of Treasury currency outsta
of new coin. The Treasury ships new coin to the Federal Reserve Banks for credit t
Treasury deposits there. These deposits will be drawn down again, however, as the
Treasury makes expenditures. Checks issued against these deposits are paid out to the
public. As individuals deposit these checks in banks, reserves increase. (See
explanation on pages
When any type of Treasury currency is retired, bank reserves decline. As banks turn in
Treasury currency for redemption, they receive Federal Reserve notes or coin in
exchange or a credit to their reserve accounts, leaving their total reserves (reserve
balances and vault cash) initially unchanged. However, the Treasury's deposits in the
Reserve Banks are charged when Treasury currency is retired. Transfers from
balances in banks to the Reserve B
absorb reserves.
Treasury Cash Holdings
In addition to accounts in depository institutions and Federal Reserve Banks, the
Treasury holds some currency in its own vaults. Changes in these holdings affect bank
reserves just like changes in the Treasury's deposit account at the Reserve Banks.
When Treasury holdings of currency increase, they do so at the expense of deposi
banks. As cash ho
into bank deposits and increas
Other Deposits in Reserve Banks
Besides U.S. banks, the U.S. Treasury, and foreign central banks and governments,
there are some international organizations and certain U.S. government agencies th
keep funds on deposit in the Federal Reserve Banks. In general, balances are built up
through transfers of deposits held at U.S. banks. Such transfers may take place either
directly, where these customers also have depos
deposit of funds acquired from others who
transfers into "other deposits" drain reserves.
When these customers draw on their Federal Reserve balances (say, to purchase
securities), these funds are paid to the public and deposited in U.S. banks, thus increasing bank reserves. Just like foreign customers, these "other" customers manage
their balances at the Federal Reserve closely so that changes in their deposits tend to
be small and have minimal net impact on reserves.
Nonfloat-Related Adjustments
be applied to the bank's reserve
bank having to hold higher balances in its
nt to a dealer for
e Bank receipts of interest on loans and
Certain adjustments are incorporated into published data on reserve balances to re
nonfloat-related corrections. Such a correction might be made, for example, if an
individual bank had mistakenly reported fewer reservable deposits than actually existed
and had held smaller reserve balances than necessary in some past period. To correct
for this error, a nonfloat-related as-of adjustment will
position. This essentially results in the
reserve account in the current and/or future periods than would be needed to satisfy
reserve requirements in those periods. Nonfloat-related as-of adjustments affect th
allocation of funds in bank reserve accounts but not the total amount in these accounts
as reflected on Federal Reserve Bank and individual bank balance sheets. Published
data on reserve balances, however, are adjusted to show only those reserve balances
held to meet the current and/or future period reserve requirements.
Other Federal Reserve Accounts
Earlier sections of this booklet described the way in which bank reserves increase wh
the Federal Reserve purchases securities and decline when the Fed sells securities.
The same results follow from any Federal Reserve expenditure or receipt. Every
payment made by the Reserve Banks, in meeting expenses or acquiring any assets,
affects deposits and bank reserves in the same way as does payme
government securities. Similarly, Reserv
securities and increases in paid-in capital absorb reserves.
End of page 35. back
The Reserve Multiplier - Why It Varies
The deposit expansion and contraction associated with a given change in bank
reserves, as illustrated earlier in this booklet, assumed a fixed reserve-to-deposit
multiplier. That multiplier was det ercentage reserve requirement
specified for transaction accounts. Such an assumption is an oversimplification of the
actual relationship between changes in reserves and changes in money, especially in
rements being imposed on liabilities not included
in money as well as differing reserve ratios being applied to transaction deposits
ermined by a uniform p
short-run. For a number of reasons, as discussed in this section, the quantity of
reserves associated with a given quantity of transaction deposits is constantly ch
One slippage affecting the reserve multiplier is variation in the amount of excess
reserves. In the real world, reserves are not always fully utilized. There are always
some excess reserves in the banking system, reflecting frictions and lags as funds flow
among thousands of individual banks.
Excess reserves present a problem for monetary policy implementation only because
the amount changes. To the extent that new reserves supplied are offset by rising
excess reserves, actual money growth falls short of the theoretical maximum.
Conversely, a reduction in excess reserves by the banking system has the same ef
on monetary expansion as the injection of an equal amount of new reserves.
Slippages also arise from reserve requiaccording to the size of the bank. From 1980 through 1990, reserve requirements were
imposed on certain nontransaction liabilities of all depository institutions, and before
then on all deposits of member banks. The reserve multiplier was affected by f
funds between institutions subject to differing reserve requirements as well as by shifts
of funds between transaction deposits and other liabilities subject to reserve
lows of
y or
requirements. The extension of reserve requirements to all depository institutions in
1980 and the elimination of reserve requirements against nonpersonal time depos
and Eurocurrency liabilities in late 1990
reduced, but did not eliminate, this source
instability in the reserve multiplier. The
deposit expansion potential of a given volume
of reserves still is affected by shifts of
transaction deposits between larger
institutions and those either exempt from
reserve requirements or whose transaction
deposits are within the tranche subject to a 3
percent reserve requirement.
In addition, the reserve multiplier is affected
by conversions of deposits into currenc
vice versa. This factor was important in the
1980s as the public's desired currency
holdings relative to transaction deposits in
money shifted considerably. Also affectin
the multiplier are shifts between transactio
deposits included in money and other
transaction accounts that also are reserva
but not included in money, such as demand
deposits due to depository institutions, the
U.S. government, and foreign banks and
official institutions. In the aggregate, these
non-money transaction deposits are relatively
small in comparison to total transaction
accounts, but can vary significantly from
week to week. A net injection of reserves has widely different effects de
Another reason for short-run variation in th
pending on how it is absorbed.
are not
rves supplied is that credit
ally constrained by the amount of excess
banks shifted to maintaining average reserves over a two-week
Only a dollar-for-dollar increase in the money supply would result if the new reserves
were paid out in currency to the public. With a uniform 10 percent reserve requirement
a $1 increase in reserves would support $10 of additional transaction accounts. An even
larger amount would be supported under the
graduated system where smaller institutions
are subject to reserve requirements below 10
percent. But, $1 of new reserves also would
support an additional $10 of certain
reservable transaction accounts that
counted as money. (See chart below.)
Normally, an increase in reserves would
absorbed by some combination of these
currency and transaction deposit changes
All of these factors are to some extent
predictable and are taken into account
decisions as to the amount of reserves tha
need to be supplied to achieve the desired
rate of monetary expansion. They help
explain why short-run fluctuations in ban
reserves often are disproportionate to, and
sometimes in the opposite direction from,
changes in the deposit component of mone
Money Creation and Reserve
e amount of rese
expansion - and thus deposit creation - is variable, reflecting uneven timing of credit
demands. Although bank loan policies normally take account of the general availabili
of funds, the size and timing of loans and investments made under those policies
depend largely on customers' credit needs.
In the real world, a bank's lending is not norm
reserves it has at any given moment. Rather, loans are made, or not made, depending
on the bank's credit policies and its expectations about its ability to obtain the funds
necessary to pay its customers' checks and maintain required reserves in a timely
fashion. In fact, because Federal Reserve regulations in effect from 1968 through e
1984 specified that average required reserves for a given week should be based on
average deposit levels two weeks earlier ("lagged" reserve accounting), deposit creat
actually preceded the provision of supporting reserves. In early 1984, a more
"contemporaneous" reserve accounting system was implemented in order to im
monetary control.
In February 1984,
reserve maintenance period ending Wednesday against average transaction depos
held over the two-week computation period ending only two days earlier. Under this
rule, actual transaction deposit expansion was expected to more closely approximate
the process explained at the beginning of this booklet. However, some slippages still
exist because of short-run uncertainties about the level of both reserves and transactideposits near the close of reserve maintenance periods. Moreover, not all banks must
maintain reserves according to the contemporaneous accounting system. Smaller
institutions are either exempt completely or only have to maintain reserves quarterl
against average deposits in one week of the prior quarterly period.
On balance, however, variability in the reserve multiplier has been r
educed by the
nds, therefore, many banks turn to
erations exert control over the creation of deposits
s, and
extension of reserve requirements to all institutions in 1980, by the adoption of
contemporaneous reserve accounting in 1984, and by the removal of reserve
requirements against nontransaction deposits and liabilities in late 1990. As a r
short-term changes in total reserves and transaction deposits in money are more
closely related now than they were before. (See charts on this page.) The lowering
the reserve requirement against transaction accounts above the 3 percent tranche in
April 1992 also should contribute to stabilizing the multiplier, at least in theory.
Ironically, these modifications contributing to a less variable relationship betwee
changes in reserves and changes in transaction deposits occurred as the relations
between transactions money (M1) and the economy deteriorated. Because the M1
measure of money has become less useful as a guide for policy, somewhat greater
attention has shifted to the broader measures M2 and M3. However, reserve multipli
relationships for the broader monetary measures are far more variable than that for M1.
Although every bank must operate within the system where the total amount of reserves
is controlled by the Federal Reserve, its response to policy action is indirect. The
individual bank does not know today precisely what its reserve position will be at t
time the proceeds of today's loans are paid out. Nor does it know when new reserves
are being supplied to the banking system. Reserves are distributed among thousands
banks, and the individual banker cannot distinguish between inflows originating from
additons to reserves through Federal reserve action and shifts of funds from other
banks that occur in the normal course of business.
To equate short-run reserve needs with available fu
the money market - borrowing funds to cover deficits or lending temporary surpluses.
When the demand for reserves is strong relative to the supply, funds obtained from
money market sources to cover deficits tend to become more expensive and harder
obtain, which, in turn, may induce banks to adopt more restrictive loan policies and thus
slow the rate of deposit growth.
Federal Reserve open market op
mainly through their impact on the availability and cost of funds in the money market
When the total amount of reserves supplied to the banking system through open mark
operations falls short of the amount required, some banks are forced to borrow at the
Federal Reserve discount window. Because such borrowing is restricted to short
periods, the need to repay it tends to induce restraint on further deposit expansion
the borrowing bank. Conversely, when there are excess reserves in the banking
system, individual banks find it easy and relatively inexpensive to acquire reserve
expansion in loans, investments, and deposits is encouraged.

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