In This Article

A look at how Banks Make Money and its Mechanisms.

How Banks Create Money

Have you ever wondered how banks have so much money to lend? The surprising truth is, that a significant chunk of that money is actually created by the banks themselves.

In this blog post, we’ll demystify the process of how exactly banks make money and illustrate why understanding it can make you savvier about your financial decisions.

So stick around, because we’re going on an economic adventure you won’t want to miss!

Key takeaways

● Banks create money through the process of lending out funds they receive from depositors, known as fractional reserve banking.
● The money multiplier effect allows banks in multi-bank systems to create even more money by depositing funds into other banks, leading to a chain reaction of money creation.
● The central bank plays a crucial role in the creation of money through open-market operations and monetary policy. They can directly impact banks' reserves and influence the amount of money created in the economy.
● Commercial bank money creation takes place in the credit theory of money, where issuing loans creates new money that stimulates economic activity.

Understanding the Basics of Banking

Banks play a crucial role in the modern economy as financial intermediaries, channeling funds from savers to borrowers and facilitating economic growth.

Understanding the Basics of Banking

The Role of Banks

Banks have a key job in our money world. They keep our cash safe, give loans, and help us pay for things easily. Banks also work as go-betweens for people who save money and those who need to borrow it.

The process of giving out these loans is how banks make new money. These acts are vital for the economy’s health.

A big part of their work involves passing on monetary rules from the central bank so they reach all parts of the economy.

The Role of Banks

Principles of Economics

Economics needs rules. These rules are called principles. They tell us how people make choices about money and goods.

Banks use these rules too. One rule is that banks want to earn more than they spend.

To do this, they charge borrowers higher interest rates than what they pay depositors. This difference in rates is their main income source.

Another rule banks work with is the supply of money in an economy, which changes when loans are given or paid back by the bank’s customers.

Principles of Economics

Money Supply

The money supply is the total amount of money in an economy. It is formed by bank reserves and paper money. The more bank loans there are, the larger the money supply becomes.

Central banks control how much money exists in a country. money supply means the currency in our pockets and balances in our checking accounts.

They use methods like setting reserve requirements for commercial banks to do this.

Banks have power over the size of the money supply
too. When they give out loans, new bank deposits are created and this increases the amount of money available in the economy.

So, banks can add to or reduce how much cash people have to spend and invest with their bank lending actions.

However, if many banks fail at once, there could be fewer dollars floating around because failed banks often call back their loans early and stop making new ones. This can shrink our stockpile of readily available cash quickly.

How Banks Create Money

Banks make money through the process of money creation by a single bank and the money multiplier in a multi-bank system, using the money multiplier formula. Banks individually create money during their normal operations of accepting deposits and making loans.

Money Creation by a Single Bank

Banks can create money by lending the funds they receive from depositors.

  1. Banks act as intermediaries between depositors and borrowers.

  2. When someone deposits money into a bank, the bank holds onto a portion of that deposit as reserves and lends out the rest.

  3. This process is known as fractional reserve banking, where banks are only required to keep a fraction of their deposits in reserve.

  4. By lending out the remaining funds, banks effectively create new money in the economy.

  5. The money built through lending becomes a deposit for the borrower, who can then spend it or deposit it in another bank.

  6. This cycle continues, with each new deposit allowing banks to make additional loans and create more money.

The Money Multiplier and a Multi-Bank System

Banks in a multi-bank system can create even more money through the money multiplier effect. When a single bank creates new loans, those funds are deposited into other banks, which then have more money to lend out.

This process continues as each bank creates new loans and deposits are made into other banks. The total amount of additional money is greater than the initial loan, thanks to this multiplier effect.

It’s like a domino effect that expands the money supply in the economy. Except for the original reserves, is a result of bank loans that are re-deposited and loaned out, again, and again.

Finally, the money multiplier depends on people re-depositing the money that they receive in the banking system. So, when one bank creates new money, it sets off a chain reaction among multiple banks, leading to even more money creation throughout the banking system.

Using the Money Multiplier Formula

The Money Multiplier Formula is used to calculate the potential increase in the money supply through the creation of new checkable deposits by banks. Here are some important points to remember:

  • The formula calculates the maximum possible change in checkable deposits based on a change in reserves.

  • The deposit multiplier is calculated by dividing the maximum possible change in checkable deposits by the change in reserves.

  • However, it’s important to note that the actual increase in checkable deposits may be limited due to factors like banks holding excess reserves and customers withdrawing cash.

  • The deposit multiplier formula helps us understand how changes in reserve levels can impact the overall money supply.

  • By using this formula, economists and policymakers can gauge the potential impact of changes in reserve requirements or monetary policy on the economy.

  • It’s worth noting that the actual money creation process involves more complex factors, such as lending decisions made by banks and macroeconomic conditions.

Role of the Central Bank in Money Creation

The central bank plays a crucial role in money creation through open-market operations, monetary policy, and the management of physical currency. Understanding this role is essential to grasp how banks make money.

Read on to uncover the intricacies of the central bank’s influence on the monetary system.

Role of the Central Bank in Money Creation

Open-market Operations

Typically the central bank uses open-market operations to influence the money supply in the economy. It involves buying and selling government securities. These operations are crucial for the central bank’s control over money creation.

The central bank can directly impact banks’ reserves and their ability to make money through open-market operations. By adjusting the supply of money, the central bank can influence interest rates.

This allows them to implement monetary policy and achieve objectives like price stability and economic growth.

Monetary Policy

Monetary policy is an important aspect of the role that central banks play in money creation. Central banks, such as the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and the European Central Bank, use monetary policy to control the money supply and influence interest rates in order to achieve certain economic goals.

They do this by buying or selling government bonds and securities through open-market operations, which affects the amount of reserves held by commercial banks.

By regulating and overseeing the banking system, central banks help protect individual depositors and maintain confidence in the stability of the financial system.

Physical Currency

Physical currency, such as coins and banknotes, is created by banks or other competent state authorities. It plays an important role in our economy as a medium of exchange.

The amount of physical currency in circulation is controlled by the central bank to ensure stability and meet the needs of the economy. This means that when we use cash for transactions or keep money in our wallets, we are using physical currency as a form of payment.

So next time you pay with cash or receive change from a purchase, remember that it’s part of the money supply and helps facilitate economic transactions.

The Function of Commercial Banks in Money Creation

Commercial banks play a crucial role in money creation through the credit theory of money and monetary financing.

The Function of Commercial Banks in Money Creation

Credit Theory of Money

Banks play an important role in creating money through the credit theory. When a bank gives out a loan, it is essentially creating new money that did not exist before.

This happens because when the loan is issued, the borrower’s account is credited with the loan amount, which they can now spend or use as they wish.

The bank’s liability increases, but so do its assets since it expects to receive interest payments on the loan. This process of credit creation expands the money supply and stimulates economic activity.

However, if borrowers default on their loans or if there are widespread bank failures, it can lead to a decrease in the money supply and potentially cause financial crises. So overall, credit plays a vital role in shaping our monetary system and influencing economic growth and stability.

Monetary Financing

Monetary financing, also known as debt monetization, is when a central bank buys government debt. This means that the central bank creates money to fund the government’s spending. In the past, this was a common practice in many countries.

However, mainstream analysis suggests that it can lead to inflation and even hyperinflation. That’s why some countries, like those in the Eurozone, have prohibited monetary financing.

In Japan, on the other hand, the central bank regularly purchases around 70% of state debt issued each month through monetary financing.

Policy and Restrictions

Banks have policies and restrictions in place to regulate their activities and ensure the stability of the financial system. These policies include:

  1. Reserve Requirements: Banks are required to hold a certain percentage of their deposits as reserves with the central bank. This helps to maintain liquidity in the banking system and prevent excessive lending.

  2. Capital Adequacy: Banks are required to maintain a certain level of capital relative to their assets. This ensures that they have enough funds to absorb losses and remain solvent.

  3. Lending Limits: Banks have limits on the amount of loans they can extend to individual borrowers or companies, which helps manage risk and prevent overexposure.

  4. Asset Quality Standards: Banks are expected to maintain high-quality assets on their bank’s balance sheet, meaning loans that are likely to be repaid on time. This reduces credit risk and promotes financial stability.

  5. Liquidity Management: Banks must manage their liquidity effectively, ensuring that they have enough cash or highly liquid assets to meet deposit withdrawals and other obligations.

  6. Consumer Protection Regulations: Banks must adhere to regulations designed to protect consumers, such as disclosing fees and terms associated with financial products, providing fair treatment, and addressing customer complaints.

  7. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Measures: Banks are required to implement measures to prevent money laundering activities, including performing due diligence on customers, monitoring transactions for suspicious activity, and reporting suspicious transactions to authorities.

The Fractional Reserve Banking System

Banks operate on a fractional reserve banking system, where they only hold only a fraction of their deposits as reserves and lend out the rest.

The Fractional Reserve Banking System

Assets and Liabilities of Banks

Banks hold both assets and liabilities, each contributing to the essential functions and overall health of the institution.



Loans: Banks make money by lending to individuals and businesses.

Deposits: Banks owe money to customers who have deposited funds into their accounts.

Securities: Banks invest in various securities to earn income.

Borrowings: Banks sometimes borrow from other banks or financial institutions.

Cash Reserves: Banks hold a certain amount of cash on hand as part of their reserves.

Payables: Banks owe money for goods and services they have purchased.

Property & Equipment: Banks own physical assets such as buildings and computers.

Debt: Banks might have borrowed money through bonds or other forms of debt.

These assets and liabilities play a significant role in the banks’ ability to make money, particularly through the lending process. Managing these assets and liabilities efficiently is crucial for a bank’s profitability and stability.

Excess Reserves and Expansion of the Money Supply

Excess reserves are extra money that banks keep above what they are required to have by the central bank. These excess reserves can be used to expand the money supply. In a fractional excess reserve banking system, banks are only required to keep a fraction of their deposits as excess reserves.

This means they can lend out the rest of the money and create new money in the money supply process. When banks issue loans, they create new deposits, which increases the overall amount of money in circulation.

By having excess reserves, banks have more capacity to make loans and expand the money supply even further. This can have an impact on economic growth and inflation rates.

Excess Reserves and Expansion of the Money Supply

The Regulation of Banks

Banks are subject to regulation, including deposit insurance and measures to prevent bank failure.

The Regulation of Banks

Deposit Insurance

Deposit insurance is an important aspect of regulating banks and ensuring their stability. It is provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to guarantee reimbursement for depositors in case of bank failure.

The FDIC has the power to close a bank when its net worth becomes negative and arranges for depositors to receive their funds. This helps prevent disruptions in the payments system and ensures that people don’t lose their money if a bank fails.

However, there can be some downsides to deposit insurance as well. It may lead to banks taking more risks since they know their deposits are insured, and it might make depositors less cautious about how the bank uses their money.

Preventing Bank Failure

Banks can fail, but there are measures in place to prevent this from happening. Here are some ways to prevent bank failure:

  • Regulations are in place to ensure that banks operate safely and soundly.

  • Banks are required to have more equity and maintain minimum levels of liquid assets.

  • Regulators are considering regulating shadow banks, which perform similar functions as traditional banks.

  • Bank failures can have wider effects like frozen deposits and disruptions in the payments system.

  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides deposit insurance to reimburse depositors if a bank fails.

Common Misperceptions About Money Creation

There are several common misperceptions about how banks create money. One of the misconceptions is that banks can simply print more money whenever they want to. In reality, banks do not physically print money themselves.

The central bank, such as the Federal Reserve Bank in the United States, is responsible for printing physical currency. Another misconception is that banks only lend out the amount of money they have on hand from deposits.

However, this is not true because when a bank makes a loan, it creates new money in the form of a deposit in the borrower’s account. This process allows for an expansion of the money supply and helps to stimulate economic growth.

Additionally, some people believe that all loans must be backed by an equal amount of reserves held by the bank. While there are reserve requirements set by regulators, most loans do not require full backing from reserves.

Instead, banks use fractional reserve banking where they keep a fraction of deposits on reserve and lend out the rest.

Overall, understanding these common misperceptions about how banks create money can help clarify misconceptions and provide individuals with accurate information about how our monetary system works.


In conclusion, banks play a crucial role in creating money through lending and the multiplier effect. They earn income from interest and fees, while also facilitating payments and ensuring stability.

Regulations are in place to minimize bank failures and protect the public’s deposits. Understanding how banks create money is important for individuals and policymakers alike.


Banks create money by issuing loans and creating digital deposits in the borrower’s account.

In the banking system, commercial banks have the authority to create money through lending activities.

Fractional reserve banking is a system where banks are only required to hold a fraction of customer deposits as reserves while using the rest to make bank loans and create new money.

Bank money creation can be safe if regulated properly by central banks and financial authorities to prevent excessive risk-taking and ensure stability in the financial system

That depends on decisions made by the Fed that concern the country’s economic well-being and whether the money supply should be increased to affect it. As for the actual amount of printed money, the Board of Governors of the Fed provides the Treasury Department with an order each year for the amount of paper money to print

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