View PDF

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK
OF NEW YORK

r Circular No. 1684 "I
L July 16, 1936 J

Statement by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Relating to Reserves Required to Be Maintained by Member Banks
With Federal Reserve Banks

To all Member Banks in the
Second Federal Reserve District:

At the request of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
System we transmit to you herewith, printed on the following pages,
a copy of the Board's statement made public on July 15, 1936, with
respect to the action taken by the Board on July 14, 1936, increasing
the reserve requirements for member banks after the close of business
August 15, 1936.
A copy of the supplement to Regulation D adopted by the Board
of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, effective as to each
member bank after the close of business August 15, 1936, relating to
the reserves required to be maintained by member banks with Federal
Reserve banks, will be mailed to each member bank in the Second
Federal Reserve District at an early date.




GrEORGE L . HARRISON,

President.

Statement by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Relating to Reserves Required to Be Maintained by Member Banks
With Federal Reserve Banks
July 14, 1936.

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System today increased the reserve requirements
for member banks as follows: on demand deposits at banks in central reserve cities, from 13 percent
to 19i>£ percent; at banks in reserve cities, from 10 percent to 15 percent; and at "country" banks,
from 7 percent to 1 0 ^ percent; on time deposits at all banks, from 3 percent to 4^/2 percent. These
increases, which amount to 50 percent of present reserve requirements, will become effective after the
close of business on August 15, 1936.
This action eliminates as a basis of possible injurious credit expansion a part of the excess reserves,
amounting at present to approximately $3,000,000,000 and expected to increase to nearly three and a
half billions by the time this action takes effect. These excess reserves have resulted almost entirely
from the inflow of gold from abroad and not from the System's policy of encouraging full recovery
through the creation and maintenance of easy money conditions. This easy money policy remains
unchanged and will be continued.
The part of the excess reserves thus eliminated is superfluous for all present or prospective needs
of commerce, industry, and agriculture and can be absorbed at this time without affecting money rates
and without restrictive influence upon member banks, practically all of which now have far more than
sufficient reserves and balances with other banks to meet the increases. Furthermore, by this action
the remaining volume of excess reserves, which will still be larger than at any time in the System's
history prior to the recent large inflow of gold, is brought within the scope of control by the Federal
Open Market Committee which, as constituted by the Banking Act of 1935, consists of the members of
the Board of Governors and five representatives elected regionally by the Federal Reserve banks.
Excess reserves are the funds held by member banks on deposit with the Federal Reserve banks in
excess of the amounts required by law. Total reserve deposits of member banks at the present time
are $5,900,000,000, of which $2,900,000,000 are required reserves and $3,000,000,000, excess reserves.
According to present indications it is estimated that total reserves are likely to increase by as much
as $400,000,000 before the increase in reserve requirements goes into effect on August 15, bringing
the estimated total of reserves at that time to approximately $6,300,000,000. By the present action
required reserves will be increased by $1,450,000,000, or from $2,900,000,000 to $4,350,000,000. This
will leave excess reserves of approximately $1,900,000,000. Therefore, even after the increase in
reserve requirements has gone into effect, member banks will still have a larger volume of excess
reserves than at any time prior to the recent large gold imports.
Present excess reserves of approximately $3,000,000,000 are likely to increase to a new peak of
nearly three and a half billions by the time the increase in reserve requirements becomes effective
because of an expected reduction in Treasury balances and a decrease in money in circulation, which
at the present time is exceptionally high owing to the large disbursements in connection with the
cashing of veterans' service bonds.
The portion of existing excess reserves, which will be absorbed by the Board's action, if permitted
to become the basis of a tenfold or even larger expansion of bank credit, would create an injurious
credit expansion. It is for this reason that the Board decided to lock up this part of the present
volume of member bank reserves as a measure of prevention on the one hand and of further encouragement to sound business recovery and confidence in the long-term investment market on the other hand.
The present is an opportune time for the adoption of such a measure. "While there is now no
excessive credit expansion, since the excess reserves have not been utilized, later action when some
member banks may have expanded their loans and investments and utilized their excess reserves might
involve the risk of bringing about a severe liquidation and of starting a deflationary cycle. It is far
better to sterilize a part of these superfluous reserves while they are still unused than to permit a
credit structure to be erected upon them and then to withdraw the foundation of the structure.
Thorough surveys made by the Board show that the reserves are so well distributed that practically all member banks are in a position to meet the increased requirements either by utilizing their
excess balances with the Reserve banks or by drawing upon their excess balances with correspondent
banks.




In the light of recent experience and in view of the fact that after the increase in requirements
goes into effect member banks will still have approximately $1,900,000,000 of excess reserves, the
Board is convinced that this action will not affect easy money conditions now prevailing. It does not
constitute a reversal of the easy money policy which has been pursued by the System since the beginning of the depression. Rather it is an adjustment to a changed reserve situation brought about through
the extraordinary inflow of gold from abroad.
The prevailing level of long-time interest rates, which has been an important factor in the
revival of the capital market, has been due principally to the large accumulations of idle funds in the
hands of individual and institutional investors. The supply of investment funds is in excess of the
demand. The increase in reserve requirements of member banks will not diminish the volume of
deposits held by these banks for their customers and will, therefore, not diminish the volume of
funds available for investment. The maintenance of an adequate supply of funds at favorable rates
for capital purposes, including mortgages, is an important factor in bringing about and sustaining
a lasting recovery.
The reduction of excess reserves to an estimated level of approximately $1,900,000,000 brings them
within the scope of control through the System's open-market portfolio which consists of $2,430,000,000
of United States Government securities. Frequent changes in reserve requirements of member banks
should be avoided because they affect all banks regardless of their reserve position. At this time an
increase can be made equitably because reserves are widely distributed. Unless large additional increases in reserves occur through gold imports or otherwise, no occasion for further adjustments in
reserve requirements is likely to arise in the near future.
For current adjustments of the reserve position of member banks to changes in the credit situation the Reserve System should continue to rely on the traditional methods of credit control through
discount policy and particularly through open-market operations. By the present action excess reserves
will be reduced to within the amount that could be absorbed through open-market operations, should
such action become desirable. Conversely, should conditions develop requiring expansion of reserves,
they could be increased through open-market operations.
The Board of Governors believes that the action taken at this time will give assurance for the
continued encouragement of full recovery.
The following table gives estimates as of August 15 of the reserves of member banks by classes
before and after the increase in reserve requirements.

ESTIMATED RESERVE POSITION OF MEMBER BANKS ON AUGUST 15, 1936
(In millions of dollars)
Before increase
in requirements
Total
reserves

Required
reserves

Excess
reserves

After increase
in requirements
Required
reserves

Central reserve city banks
Reserve city banks
"Country" banks

3,000
2,200
1,100

1,500
950
450

1,500
1,250
650

2,
250
400
1,
700

All member banks

6,300

2,900

3,400

4,350




Excess
reserves

750
800
400
1,950


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102