What is the prime rate, and does the Federal Reserve set the prime rate?
The prime rate is an interest rate determined by individual banks. 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. On its H.15 statistical release, "Selected Interest Rates," the Board reports the prime rate posted by the majority of the largest twenty-five banks. Although the Federal Reserve has no direct role in setting the prime rate, many banks choose to set their prime rates based partly on the target level of the federal funds rate--the rate that banks charge each other for short-term loans--established by the Federal Open Market Committee.