DEFINITION of 'Loose Credit'

The practice of making credit easy to come by, either through relaxed lending criteria or by lowering interest rates for borrowing. Loose credit often refers to central banking monetary policy and whether it is looking to expand the money supply (loose credit) or contract it (tight credit).

Loose credit environments may also be called "accommodative monetary policy" or "loose monetary policy".

BREAKING DOWN 'Loose Credit'

The U.S. markets were considered a loose credit environment between 2001 and 2006, as the Federal Reserve lowered the Fed funds rate, and interest rates reached their lowest levels in more than 30 years. This allowed the economy to expand, as more people were able to borrow. This led to increased asset investment and spending on goods and services.

Central banks differ on the mechanisms they have at their disposal to create loose or tight credit environments. Most have a central borrowing rate (such as the Fed funds rate or discount rate) that affects the largest banks and borrowers first; they in turn pass the rate changes along to their customers. The changes eventually work their way down to the individual consumer via credit card interest rates, mortgage loan rates and rates on basic investments like money market funds and certificates of deposit (CDs).

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