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Finding US bank base rates

Research guide

Updated: 30 Nov 2022 Update History

This research guide looks at sources for current and historical US bank rates, including the discount rate, prime rate and federal funds rate.

How the Library can help

The ICAEW Library has compiled this guide to help everyone to find the base rates they need.

The Library enquiry team can also help ICAEW members, ACA students and other authorised users with requests for base rates data. Library staff can consult print sources held in our collection on your behalf.

If you would like to know more about the information we can offer, please call us on +44 (0)20 7920 8620, email library@icaew.com or contact us through webchat.

Things to look out for

When using any base rate data it's important to remember that different sources are used to compile these figures.

In some instances the data is taken from just one bank; in other cases it's a compilation. One indicator of multiple data sources is a spread of rates on the same day — eg, 5-5.25.

Examples of US bank rates

Federal funds rate

The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (such as banks) actively trade balances held at the Federal Reserve with each other. The rate fluctuates in response to supply and demand in the market for Federal Reserve balances. The Federal Reserve Board describes the rate as an important benchmark in the financial markets.

Prime rate

The Federal Reserve Board describes the prime rate as 'an interest rate determined by individual banks', noting that it is 'often used as a reference rate (also called the base rate) for many types of loans, including loans to small businesses and credit card loans'. The rates are set by individual banks, often taking into account the target level of the federal funds rate.

Discount rate

The Federal Reserve Board provides the following definition of the discount rate: 'Officially the primary credit rate, it is the interest rate at which an eligible depository institution may borrow funds, typically for a short period, directly from a Federal Reserve Bank'.

A more detailed explanation of the discount rate can be found on the Discount Rate page on the Federal Reserve Board website, and in Chapter 3 of The Fed Explained: What the Central Bank Does.

Sources for current and historical rates

Federal Reserve statistical releases

The Federal Reserve publishes a statistical release covering Selected Interest Rates (H.15), which includes the effective federal funds rate. Data from this release may be accessed through two webpages — one giving daily figures for the previous five business days; the other serving as the entry point for an extensive archive of current and historical H.15 data, with coverage as follows:

  • Business day — 1 July 1954 to date
  • Daily — 1 July 1954 to date
  • Weekly (Wednesday) — 7 July 1954 to date
  • Bi-weekly (Wednesday) — 14 July 1954 to date
  • Monthly — July 1954 to date
  • Annual — 1955 to date

As of 1 March 2016, the daily effective federal funds rate given in the H.15 release is a 'volume-weighted median of transaction-level data collected from depository institutions'; prior to this date, it was 'a volume-weighted mean of rates on brokered trades'.

Financial Times

The Financial Times publishes a selection of European, US and Japanese rates each day, in a table headed ‘Interest Rates: Official’. This table includes the US Fed Funds rate.

Rates going back five years are available online via the FT Data Archive (subscription required), in the report titled ‘FT500, Fixed incomes, Commodities, Interest rates'. To access US interest rates data via the FT Data Archive, follow the below steps:

  1. Click on the funnel to the right of the 'Browse reports' heading. This will reveal options to filter the reports by category and specify a date range.
  2. Choose the option to filter reports by the category of 'Popular print', and select the option ‘FT500, Fixed incomes, Commodities, Interest rates'.
  3. Select a report from the list to download it in PDF format.

In addition, the ICAEW Library aims to keep the last 6 months' worth of market data pages from the FT, and the Guildhall Library holds the FT in various formats back to 1888. Some other public libraries also hold copies of the FT, with varying temporal coverage.

International Financial Statistics

Annual, quarterly, and monthly figures for the effective federal funds rate (here termed the ‘Money Market Rate’) and the Discount Rate (end-of-period) are published in the online International Monetary Fund (IMF) database International Financial Statistics (IFS), which is updated once per month. Coverage goes back to 1950 in the case of the Discount Rate, and 1954 in the case of the Money Market Rate.

Figures are also given for the Central Bank Policy Rate (end-of-period) — ie, the ‘average of the upper and lower limits of the federal funds target range established by the Federal Open Market Committee’ — and for the Lending Rate, defined as the ‘base rate charged by banks on short-term business loans’. Data on the Central Bank Policy Rate goes back to 1982, whilst data on the Lending Rate extends back to 1950.

Interest rates data may be viewed in tables (by country), or via the IMF Data query tool. The IMF website provides instructions on how to use the query tool.

Full information on the nature and sources of the rates given in this database can be found in the ‘World and Country Notes’ which are published along with each monthly update. These can be downloaded from the ‘Archive’ page of the IFS microsite.

The IFS was previously published as a print periodical. The ICAEW Library holds the January and July issues for 2007–2012 (containing monthly figures for the Discount Rate from March 2006 to October 2011, supplemented by quarterly figures back to Quarter 4 2004). The Library also holds copies of the IFS Yearbook from 1998 to 2012, which contain annual figures for the federal funds rate for 1968 to 2011.

Related resources

For guidance on how to find other related information, see the following pages:

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