Similarly, in a low-rate environment, companies can borrow money more cheaply and use those funds to grow their businesses, while boosting the overall economy. In the wake of the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve cut the fed funds rate to effectively zero, where it remained for seven years, The interest rate set on the excess reserves that banks can lend to each other refers to the Federal Reserve interest rate. This rate is important because: It influences short-term rates such as those on credit cards, home loans, auto loans, and consumer loans. It is a leading economic indicator and a monetary tool. Winners and losers from the Fed’s rate cut. The Federal Reserve says that it’s cutting interest rates by 0.25 percent, lowering the federal funds rate to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. This latest rate decrease was widely expected and follows a series of four interest rate hikes in 2018.