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Reserve Requirements


Reserve requirements refer to the minimum amount of money that a bank is required to hold in reserve as a proportion of customer deposits and notes. They are set by the central bank to ensure that the bank has enough funds to meet any sudden demand for withdrawals. These requirements act as a safeguard against a bank running out of cash and help maintain economic stability.


The phonetics for “Reserve Requirements” is: rɪˈzɜːrv rɪˈkwaɪərmənts

Key Takeaways

1.Function: Reserve requirements are regulations put in place by most central banks, requiring banks and other financial institutions to hold a specific amount of funds as reserves. The reserves are meant to ensure that the financial institution can pay its obligations if large amounts of depositors demand their deposits back.

2.Financial Stability: By mandating reserve requirements, central banks prevent bank runs and maintain financial stability. Banks are less likely to lend excessively or get involved in risky investments because they know they have to meet the minimum reserve requirements.

3.Monetary Policymaking: Reserve requirements are one of the three main monetary policy tools used by central banks (along with open market operations and discount rates). Adjusting the reserve requirements influences the amount of money a bank is able to lend, subsequently affecting the overall supply of money in the economy.


Reserve requirements play a crucial role in the business/finance sector as they regulate the minimum amount of funds that banks must hold in reserve against their deposit liabilities. These requirements are set by the central bank to ensure that banks have enough liquidity to meet immediate transaction needs of their customers, maintain a stable banking system, and handle unexpected withdrawals or financial crises. Moreover, these reserve requirements also serve as a monetary policy tool. By altering the reserve ratio, the central bank can influence the amount of money a bank can loan out, indirectly controlling the money supply in the economy. Consequently, reserve requirements are highly significant in preserving the financial stability and health of the entire economy.


Reserve requirements serve a crucial role in the stability and predictability of the banking system and consequently, the broader economy. The primary purpose of reserve requirements, which is the minimum amount of cash a bank must hold either as vault cash or on deposit with the Federal Reserve, is to ensure that the bank has a certain percentage of its customer deposits readily available for customer withdrawals or unexpected liabilities. This framework reduces the likelihood of a bank running out of cash, therefore mitigating the risk of financial strain or turmoil that can lead to a collapse or bank run. Reserve requirements also serve as a tool for the Federal Reserve to control the money supply within the economy. By adjusting the reserve ratio (the percentage of deposits a bank is required to hold as reserves), the Federal Reserve influences the bank’s capacity to lend and therefore, the amount of money in circulation. By increasing the reserve ratio, banks would have less money to lend, which could slow economic activity, whereas a decrease in the ratio could spur economic activity by increasing the liquidity available for lending.


1. Federal Reserve (USA): The US Federal Reserve used to require depository institutions to hold a certain percentage of their customers’ deposits in reserve either as cash in vault or as deposits with Federal Reserve Banks. This was to ensure that the banks had enough money to pay back their depositors. As of March 2020, due to the economic circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the reserve requirement ratios were set to zero percent.2. People’s Bank of China: The People’s Bank of China uses reserve requirements as one of its key monetary policy tools. For instance, in 2018, the bank cut the reserve requirement ratio for most banks by 1.0 percentage points, which was aimed at supporting the slowing economy and to allow banks to offer more loans.3. Reserve Bank of India: The Reserve Bank of India enforces Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) for Indian banks. The CRR mandates that a certain percentage of a bank’s total deposits be maintained in the form of liquid cash. This reserve requirement acts as a safety measure, ensuring that banks have a surplus of cash for unexpected large scale withdrawals, and also providing the central bank with a tool to control money supply in the economy.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What are Reserve Requirements?

Reserve requirements, in finance and economics, refer to the rules set by central banks that oblige commercial banks to hold a certain percentage of their deposits as reserves. These reserves are usually held in the form of deposits with the central bank or vault cash.

Why are Reserve Requirements important in the financial system?

Reserve requirements are a vital tool for a central bank to help maintain fiscal stability. By managing these requirements, the central bank has a way of controlling the amount of money circulating in the economy, and this can have significant effects on inflation, interest rates, and economic growth.

How do Reserve Requirements affect the banking system?

Reserve requirements directly influence the amount of money that banks can lend. If the reserve requirement is high, banks will have less money to loan, which can lead to higher interest rates and slower economic growth. If the requirement is low, banks can lend more, potentially fueling economic growth.

Can Reserve Requirements change?

Yes, central banks can and do adjust reserve requirements as per the needs of their economies. For instance, during periods of economic downturn, central banks may lower reserve requirements to encourage more lending and stimulate economic activity.

What happens if a bank doesn’t meet its Reserve Requirements?

If a bank fails to meet its reserve requirements, it can face sanctions or penalties from the central bank. These punishments could range from fines to more severe enforcement actions.

Are Reserve Requirements the same across all countries?

No, reserve requirements can vary greatly from country to country. This is because each nation’s central bank determines what its reserve requirements will be based on specific economic factors and policy goals.

How often do banks have to report their reserves to the central bank?

It varies, but typically, banks are required to report reserves periodically, often at the end of the business day or on a weekly basis. The frequency of reporting may depend on the country’s central bank’s policies.

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