If you’ve been watching financial media lately, there has been plenty of discussion regarding the Federal Reserve raising interest rates.
So…how exactly does the Fed do that, and what effect can it have on the stock market?
For starters: the Fed doesn’t actually increase the interest rates directly.
The Fed has something called a discount window. The discount window is where banks, such as Chase and Bank of America, go to borrow money in order to maintain their reserve requirements. The reserve requirement is the amount of funds a bank must have on hand at all times.
So what happens is that the Fed will increase the discount rate they charge banks. The banks then take the increase and pass it on to us, the consumers, by raising their rates. That, in essence, is how the Federal Reserve increases interest rates.
A rate increase can cause sell-off in the stock market as investors, attracted by higher rates on bonds, certificates of deposit (CDs) and savings accounts, move their money into these “safer” places to avoid risk.