IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Why are banks holding so many excess reserves?

  • Todd Keister
  • James McAndrews

The quantity of reserves in the U.S. banking system has risen dramatically since September 2008. Some commentators have expressed concern that this pattern indicates that the Federal Reserve's liquidity facilities have been ineffective in promoting the flow of credit to firms and households. Others have argued that the high level of reserves will be inflationary. We explain, through a series of examples, why banks are currently holding so many reserves. The examples show how the quantity of bank reserves is determined by the size of the Federal Reserve's policy initiatives and in no way reflects the initiatives' effects on bank lending. We also argue that a large increase in bank reserves need not be inflationary, because the payment of interest on reserves allows the Federal Reserve to adjust short-term interest rates independently of the level of reserves.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 380.

in new window

Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:380
Contact details of provider: Postal: 33 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10045-0001
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Dasgupta Swapan, 2009. "Comment on Luigi Zingales: Why not Consider Maximum Reserve Ratios?," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 6(4), pages 1-2, March.
  2. Huberto M. Ennis & Todd Keister, 2008. "Understanding monetary policy implementation," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 235-263.
  3. Huberto M. Ennis & John A. Weinberg, 2007. "Interest on reserves and daylight credit," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 111-142.
  4. Sumner Scott, 2009. "Comment on Brad Delong: Can We Generate Controlled Reflation in a Liquidity Trap?," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 6(4), pages 1-2, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:380. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Amy Farber)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.