Reserve requirements are the amount of funds that a depository institution must hold in reserve against specified deposit liabilities. Within limits specified by law, the Board of Governors has sole authority over changes in reserve requirements. Depository institutions must hold reserves in the form of vault cash or deposits with Federal Reserve Banks.
The dollar amount of a depository institution's reserve requirement is determined by applying the reserve ratios specified in the Federal Reserve Board's Regulation D to an institution's reservable liabilities (see table of reserve requirements). Reservable liabilities consist of net transaction accounts, nonpersonal time deposits, and eurocurrency liabilities. Since December 27, 1990, nonpersonal time deposits and eurocurrency liabilities have had a reserve ratio of zero.
The reserve ratio on net transactions accounts depends on the amount of net transactions accounts at the depository institution. The Garn-St Germain Act of 1982 exempted the first $2 million of reservable liabilities from reserve requirements. This "exemption amount" is adjusted each year according to a formula specified by the act. The amount of net transaction accounts subject to a reserve requirement ratio of 3 percent was set under the Monetary Control Act of 1980 at $25 million. This "low-reserve tranche" is also adjusted each year (see table of low-reserve tranche amounts and exemption amounts since 1982). Net transaction accounts in excess of the low-reserve tranche are currently reservable at 10 percent.
For more history on the changes in reserve requirement ratios and the indexation of the exemption and low-reserve tranche, see the annual review in the H.3 statistical release. Additional details on reserve requirements can be found in the Reserve Maintenance Manual (682 KB PDF) and in the article (119 KB PDF) in the Federal Reserve Bulletin, the appendix of which has tables of historical reserve ratios.
Note. Required reserves must be held in the form of vault cash and, if vault cash is insufficient, also in the form of a deposit maintained with a Federal Reserve Bank. An institution that is a member of the Federal Reserve System must hold that deposit directly with a Reserve Bank; an institution that is not a member of the System can maintain that deposit directly with a Reserve Bank or with another institution in a pass-through relationship. Reserve requirements are imposed on commercial banks, savings banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks, Edge corporations, and agreement corporations.
1. Total transaction
accounts consists of demand deposits, automatic transfer service (ATS)
accounts, NOW accounts, share draft accounts, telephone or preauthorized
transfer accounts, ineligible bankers acceptances, and obligations issued by
affiliates maturing in seven days or less. Net transaction accounts are
total transaction accounts less amounts due from other depository
institutions and less cash items in the process of collection. For a more
detailed description of these deposit types, see Form FR 2900 at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/reportforms/
2. The amount of net transaction accounts subject to a reserve requirement ratio of zero percent (the "exemption amount") is adjusted each year by statute. The exemption amount is adjusted upward by 80 percent of the previous year's (June 30 to June 30) rate of increase in total reservable liabilities at all depository institutions. No adjustment is made in the event of a decrease in such liabilities. Return to table
3. The amount of net transaction accounts subject to a reserve requirement ratio of 3 percent is the "low-reserve tranche." By statute, the upper limit of the low-reserve tranche is adjusted each year by 80 percent of the previous year's (June 30 to June 30) rate of increase or decrease in net transaction accounts held by all depository institutions. Return to table