By Michael S. Derby
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York again saw very strong demand for liquidity aimed at helping financial markets navigate the turn of the year.
The demand once again arrived as the Fed added temporary liquidity to financial markets Monday. All together the central bank pumped in $97.9 billion in two parts. One was via overnight repurchase agreements, or repos, that totaled $72.9 billion. The other was via 42-day repos.
While the Fed took all the securities that dealers offered it for the overnight repo, the longer-term operation saw eligible banks offer $42.55 billion in securities versus the $25 billion the Fed took. That level of interest was a replay from the last 42-day repo operation held Nov. 25, when eligible banks submitted $49.05 billion in securities against the $25 billion the central bank accepted.
The robust demand for year-end liquidity could alter the path of future longer-term Fed interventions and induce the central bank to increase their size. Central banks want to ensure that markets remain well behaved over year end, and they have signaled they will be flexible in achieving that. The Fed has already increased the size of other temporary operations, making it possible future term operations could be bigger as well.
Fed repo interventions take in Treasury and mortgage securities from eligible banks in what is effectively a short-term loan of central-bank cash, collateralized by the securities.
The Fed's interventions are aimed at ensuring that the financial system has enough liquidity and that short-term borrowing rates remain well-behaved, with the central bank's federal-funds rate staying within the 1.5%-to-1.75% target range. The effective fed-funds rate stood at 1.56% on Friday. The broad general collateral rate for repo trading stood at 1.62%, also for Tuesday.
The Fed has been intervening in markets in the current fashion since mid-September, when short-term rates unexpectedly shot up on a confluence of factors, although it has used similar operations for decades to manage short-term rates.
Since the large interventions started, money-market rates have been well-behaved. The Fed is using temporary operations to tamp down any possible volatility, while purchasing Treasury bills to build up reserves in the banking system. It hopes that by buying Treasury bills it will be able to cut back on repo interventions at the start of next year.
The Fed currently expects to buy Treasury bills through the middle of next year.
Write to Michael S. Derby at email@example.com