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Money a bank keeps in addition to the legally required reserves. Historically, most banks have kept little or nothing in excess reserves because they earn no interest on excess reserves. Government policies such as FDIC deposit insurance encouraged keeping less in reserves because banks were not required to cover all withdrawals in the event of a run. However, in the United States, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 allowed the Federal Reserve to pay interest on excess reserves, which is began doing in October 2008. In the ensuing months, the amount of excess reserves in American banks increased substantially. This is thought to have reduced insolvency risk for banks by encouraging them to keep more money on hand, but critics contend that this discourages banks from lending.
The reserves held by banks and thrifts in excess of what is required by the Federal Reserve. Large excess reserves indicate a potential for credit expansion and reduced interest rates that could prove beneficial to the security markets. Conversely, small excess reserves indicate reduced possibilities for credit expansion and a relatively tight monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. Compare required reserves.