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Reserve Ratio


The reserve ratio is a banking regulation that sets the minimum fraction of customer deposits and notes that each commercial bank must hold as reserves. These reserved funds are held either in the bank’s vault as cash or as deposits with the central bank. The purpose of this ratio is to ensure that bank has enough reserves to pay its depositors in case of unusually high demand.


The phonetics of the keyword “Reserve Ratio” is: rɪˈzɜːrv ˈreɪʃiːoʊ

Key Takeaways

1. Definition: The reserve ratio, often referred to as the cash reserve ratio (CRR), is a critical element of monetary policy. This ratio is specified by the central bank of a country and indicates the percentage of depositors’ balances banks must have on hand as cash. It is a key tool to control the money supply in an economy.

2. Purpose: The reserve ratio serves multiple purposes. By adjusting the reserve ratio, a central bank can control the lending capacity of commercial banks, thereby managing currency liquidity and economic stability. A higher reserve ratio reduces available funds for lending and tightens the money supply, slowing economic activity. Conversely, a lower reserve ratio increases available funds for lending, stimulating economic activity.

3. Impact: Changes to the reserve ratio have a multiplier effect on the economy. An increase in the reserve ratio reduces the money supply by reducing the funds available for banks to loan out, leading to lower levels of spending and investment. Conversely, a decrease in the reserve ratio increases the money supply by freeing up more funds for banks to lend, leading to higher levels of spending and investment.


The Reserve Ratio is a crucial concept in business and finance as it serves as a key financial regulatory tool used by central banks to implement monetary policies. The ratio refers to the portion of depositors’ balances that banks must hold in reserve and not lend out. The importance lies in its ability to influence the money supply in an economy – when reserve ratio requirements increase, banks have less money to lend, which could lead to decreased spending and slowed economic growth, contrasting, when reserve ratio requirements decrease, it enables banks to lend more, potentially stimulating economic growth. Hence, the reserve ratio assists in managing economic stability, managing inflation and controlling the lending ability of banks.


The Reserve Ratio is a significant tool used by central banks to implement monetary policy. Its primary purpose is to control the supply of money in the economy, achieve monetary stability, and influence the lending capacity of commercial banks. By adjusting the reserve ratio, central banks can either encourage or discourage banks from lending, ultimately influencing economic activity. A higher reserve ratio means banks have less money to lend, which can slow down economic activity; on the other hand, a lower ratio means banks have more money to lend, which can stimulate economic activity.Additionally, the reserve ratio is used as a safeguard mechanism ensuring that banks have sufficient reserve funds to meet immediate obligations or unexpected withdrawals by depositors. This contributes to maintaining the financial system’s stability and credibility. If a bank does not hold sufficient reserves, it can result in financial instability or bank runs as fear can spread among depositors about the bank’s solvency. Hence, the importance of the reserve ratio extends beyond controlling liquidity to providing a safety net for the banking sector.


1. Federal Reserve System: In the United States, the Federal Reserve requires commercial banks and other depository institutions to hold a certain percentage of their customer’s money in reserve. The reserve ratio is used as a tool in monetary policy, influencing the country’s borrowing and interest rates by controlling the amount of funds banks can loan out. 2. Chinese Reserve Requirement Cut (2018): In 2018, the People’s Bank of China cut reserve requirements for most banks in an attempt to inject cash into the economy and stimulate growth. The reserve ratio was cut by 1%, effectively freeing up billions of dollars for new loans.3. European Central Bank (ECB) and the Reserve Ratio: In normal times, the ECB demands that commercial banks within its jurisdiction maintain a minimum reserve ratio of 1%. However, during the financial crisis in 2012, to increase liquidity in the European banking system, the ECB lowered the reserve ratio to 0%. This policy facilitated more freedom for the financial institutions to lend money in the economy and avoid a deeper recession.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Reserve Ratio?

The Reserve Ratio is a financial term that denotes the portion of depositors’ balances that banks are obligated to keep on hold at the central bank or in their vaults rather than lending out. It’s a requirement set forth by central banking regulations.

Why is the Reserve Ratio important in finance?

The Reserve Ratio is critical in lending and economic stability. It instructs how much a bank can offer in loans and thus affects the money supply in the economy. A higher ratio means banks have less money to lend, restricting the money supply, while a lower ratio increases the supply of money through more loans.

Who controls the Reserve Ratio?

The central bank or regulating authority of a country typically controls the Reserve Ratio. For instance, in the United States, the Federal Reserve determines this requirement.

What happens if the Reserve Ratio is increased?

An increased Reserve Ratio means banks must hold onto more cash, which reduces the amount of money available for loans. This can slow economic growth by making it harder for businesses and individuals to borrow, but it can also protect against economic instability caused by banks lending out too much money.

What is the impact of a decreased Reserve Ratio?

A decrease in the Reserve Ratio allows banks to lend out more of their deposits, which injects more money into the economy. Though this can spur economic growth, it may also lead to inflation if too much money is circulated.

How does the Reserve Ratio affect interest rates?

The Reserve Ratio can also influence interest rates. When a higher rate is in place, banks often increase the interest rates they charge on loans to maintain profitability. Conversely, a lower ratio often leads to lower interest rates, encouraging more borrowing.

Does the Reserve Ratio apply to all types of banks?

The Reserve Ratio primarily applies to commercial banks, credit unions, and thrift institutions. The specific requirements might differ depending on the size and type of the financial institution.

How often are banks required to comply with the Reserve Ratio?

Banks are generally required to comply with their Reserve Ratio rates at all times, and they’re typically audited regularly to ensure compliance. The specifics can vary depending on the country’s banking regulations.

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