The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate (WSJ Prime Rate) is a measure of the U.S. prime rate, defined by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) as "the base rate on corporate loans posted by at least 70% of the 10 largest U.S. banks". It is not the "best" rate offered by banks.
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The prime rate itself is based on the federal funds target rate, which is the rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans in order to meet their federal reserve requirements each night. The rule of thumb is that the prime rate is three percentage points higher than the federal funds rate.
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The prime rate is one of the most widely used market indicators, albeit a lagging one, and it is a major benchmark for mortgage and credit card rates. It is also often the basis for adjustable-rate loans.. For example, if a bank is offering a home equity loan at "prime plus 5" and its prime rate is 6%, then the bank is essentially offering borrowers an 11% loan (6% + 5%) with an interest rate.
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· Prime Rates and Short Rates. The prime rate is typically 2 to 3 percentage points higher than the Federal Funds rate. If the Federal Funds rate is at around 2.5%, then expect the prime rate to be around 5%. The short rate is an abbreviation for ‘short-term interest rate’; that is, the interest rate charged (usually in some particular market).
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In the United States, the prime rate runs approximately 300 basis points (or 3 percentage points) above the federal funds rate, which is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans made to fulfill reserve funding requirements.