Federal Funds

DEFINITION of 'Federal Funds'

Excess reserves that commercial banks deposit at regional Federal Reserve banks. Federal funds can then be lent to other commercial banks with insufficient reserves. These loans are made at a relatively low interest rate, called the federal funds rate or overnight rate, and they typically have an extremely short duration: overnight. Federal funds help commercial banks meet their daily reserve requirements. Banks are required to maintain a certain level of reserves based on the amount of customer deposits they are responsible for.

BREAKING DOWN 'Federal Funds'

When federal funds are freely available for borrowing, credit is easy to obtain and the credit market is considered healthy. When federal funds are difficult to obtain, credit becomes tight. If credit is too freely available, the Federal Reserve may buy back some of the government bonds it has issued to decrease the money supply and try to prevent inflation. The federal funds rate is closely related to short-term interest rates in the broader market.

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