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Discount Window Definition

What is a Lessen Window?

The discount window is a central bank lending facility meant to help commercial banks manage short-term liquidity necessaries. Banks that are unable to borrow from other banks in the fed funds market may borrow directly from the chief bank’s discount window paying the federal discount rate.

Current discount rates are listed on the Federal Hold’s website.

Key Takeaways

  • The discount window is a central bank facility that offers commercial banks very short-term advances (often overnight).
  • The Federal Reserve extends discount window loans to financial institutions who, in turn, support commercial applications.
  • The discount window rate is higher than the fed funds target rate, which encourages banks to borrow and fit to each other and only turn to the central bank when necessary.
  • The discount window is also used for median banks when they act as lender of last resort.

How a Discount Window Works

The Federal Reserve and other cardinal banks maintain discount windows, referring to the loans they make at an administered discount rate to commercial banks and other deposit-taking moors.

Discount window borrowing tends to be short-term—usually overnight—and collateralized. These loans are different from the uncollateralized appropriating banks with deposits at central banks do among themselves; in the U.S. these loans are made at the federal funds status, which is lower than the discount rate. Even foreign banks may borrow from the Federal Reserve’s gloss over window.

Banks borrow at the discount window when they are experiencing short-term liquidity shortfalls and need a irascible cash infusion. Banks generally prefer to borrow from other banks, since the rate is cheaper and the credits do not require collateral.

The term refers to the now-obsolete practice of sending bank employees to actual, physical windows in Federal Formality branch lobbies to ask for loans.

For this reason, discount window borrowing jumps during spells of economy-wide perturb, when all banks are experiencing some degree of liquidity pressure: after the tech bubble burst in 2001, for specimen, borrowing at the Fed’s discount window hit its highest level in 15 years.

Borrowing from the central bank is a substitute for bum from other commercial banks, and so it is seen as a lender of last-resort measure once the interbank overnight lending technique has been maxed out. The Federal Reserve sets this interbank rate, called the Fed funds rate, which is as usual set lower than the discount rate.

Example of the Discount Window


Special Considerations

The Fed’s discount window lends at three chew outs; “discount rate” is shorthand for the first-rate offered to the most financially sound institutions. The three rates are defined as the fundamental credit rate, secondary credit rate, and seasonal discount rate. All other interest rates are affected by the take rate including savings and money market interest rates, fixed-rate mortgages, and Libor rates.

According to the Federal Avoidance website:
“Bankers’ banks, corporate credit unions, and other financial institutions are not required to maintain reserves comprised in 

Federal Discount Rate vs. Federal Funds Rate 

The federal discount rate is the interest rate the Federal Standoffishness charges on loans from the Federal Reserve. Not to be confused with the federal funds rate, which is the rate banks injunction each other for loans that are used to hit reserve requirements. The discount rate is determined by the Federal Reserve’s management of governors, as opposed to the federal funds rate, which is set by the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC). The FOMC start outs the Fed funds rate through the open sale and purchase of U.S. Treasuries, whereas the discount rate is reached solely out-and-out review by the board of governors.

Healthy banks are allowed to borrow all they want at very short maturities (all things considered overnight) from the Fed’s discount window, and it is therefore referred to as a standing lending facility. The interest rate on these essential credit loans is the discount rate itself, which is typically set higher than the federal funds rate quarry, because the central bank prefers that banks borrow from each other so that they continually CRT each other for credit risk and liquidity. 

As a result, in most circumstances the amount of discount lending under the predominant credit facility is very small, intended only to be a backup source of liquidity for sound banks so that the federal stakes rate never rises too far above its target—it theoretically puts a ceiling on the Fed funds rate to equal the discount rate.

Not original credit is given to banks that are in financial trouble and are experiencing severe liquidity problems. The central bank’s partial rate on secondary credit is set at 50 basis points (0.5 percentage points) above the discount rate. The involved rate on these loans is set at a higher penalty rate to reflect the less-sound condition of these borrowers. Under conformist circumstances, the discount rate sits in between the Fed Funds rate and the secondary credit rate. Example: Fed funds place = 1%; discount rate = 2%, secondary rate = 2.5%.

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