General Market Commentary – Wed 18 Sep, 2019

The Fed and the Repo Market – What will Powell say at the press conference today?

In a development that just started 2 days ago the Fed has been pumping money into the repo market. The article below summarizes what started on Monday and has continued over the past couple days. As short term rates shot higher the Fed has been forced to inject over $125 billion to keep a lid on the rate increases.

I will be talking a lot about this over the rest of the week but for now we wait to see what Powell says at his press conference.

Below is a brief explanation from Reuters… Click here to visit the original posting page.

As if the U.S. Federal Reserve did not already have enough on its plate heading into its meeting on interest rates this week, chaos deep inside the plumbing of the U.S. financial system has thrown policymakers an unexpected curveball.

Cash available to banks for their short-term funding needs all but dried up earlier this week, and interest rates in U.S. money markets shot up to as high as 10% for some overnight loans, more than four times the Fed’s rate.

That forced the Fed to make an emergency injection of more than $125 billion over the past two days, its first major market intervention since the financial crisis more than a decade ago, to prevent borrowing costs from spiraling even higher. While the effort restored a measure of order to the short-term bank funding market, it was not enough to stop the Fed’s benchmark lending rate from rising above its targeted range of 2.00% to 2.25%.

The exact cause of the squeeze is a matter of some debate, but most market participants agree that two coincidental events on Monday were at least partly to blame. First, corporations had to withdraw funds from money market accounts to pay for quarterly tax bills, and on the same day the banks and investors who bought the $78 billion of U.S. Treasury notes and bonds sold by Uncle Sam last week had to settle up.

On top of that, the reserves that banks park with the Fed and are often made available to other banks on an overnight basis are at their lowest since 2011 thanks to the central bank’s culling of its vast portfolio of bonds over the past few years.

Added together, these factors are testing the limits of the $2.2 trillion repurchase agreement – or repo – market, a gray but essential component of the U.S. financial system.

Whatever the cause, the episode has added fuel to the argument that the Fed needs to take steps to avoid more disruptions in the repo market down the road.

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