Economic Definition of excess reserves. Defined.
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Term excess reserves Definition: The amount of bank reserves over and above those that the Federal Reserve System requires a bank to keep. Excess reserves are what banks use to make loans. If a bank has more excess reserves, then it can make more loans. This is a key part of the Fed's ability to control the money supply. Using open market operations, the Fed can add to, or subtract from, the excess reserves held by banks. If the Fed, for example, adds to excess reserves, then banks can make more loans. Banks make these loans by adding to their customers' checking account balances. This is of some importance, because checking account balances are an major part of the economy's money supply. In essence, controlling these excess reserves is the Fed's number one method of "printing" money without actually printing money.