On December 16, 2015, the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee decided to raise the target federal funds rate by 0.25 percent. FOMC Chair Janet Yellen stated, “This action marks the end of an extraordinary seven-year period during which the federal funds rate was held near zero to support the recovery of the economy from the worst financial crisis and recession since the Great Depression. It also recognizes the considerable progress that has been made toward restoring jobs, raising incomes, and easing the economic hardship of millions of Americans. And it reflects the Committee’s confidence that the economy will continue to strengthen.” As a result of this action, the prime rate has risen from 3.25 percent to 3.50 percent, as reflected in the Federal Reserve’s Statistical Release H.15.
The Arizona statute that deals with post judgment interest rates is A.R.S. § 44-1201. Subsection B of this statute provides:
“B. Unless specifically provided for in statute or a different rate is contracted for in writing, interest on any judgment shall be at the lesser of ten per cent per annum or at a rate per annum that is equal to one per cent plus the prime rate as published by the board of governors of the federal reserve system in statistical release H.15 or any publication that may supersede it on the date that the judgment is entered. The judgment shall state the applicable interest rate and it shall not change after it is entered.”
Due to the recent increase in the prime rate, the current post judgment interest rate in Arizona is 4.50 percent per annum, unless a written contract or statute provides otherwise. In certain circumstances, subsection B may also be used to determine a prejudgment interest rate. See A.R.S. § 44-1201(F) (“If awarded, prejudgment interest shall be at the rate described in subsection A or B of this section.”).
Now that the Federal Reserve has begun the process of increasing interest rates, there will probably be further changes in the prime rate over the next year. Therefore, further changes can be expected in Arizona’s post judgment interest rate.