© Reuters. N.Y. Fed Seeks to Ease Money-Market Rates After Funding Turmoil
(Bloomberg) — The New York Fed said it will conduct its first overnight system repurchase agreement in a decade, following a rare mid-month surge in U.S. money-market interest rates that continued for a second day on Tuesday.
The operation to keep the fed funds rate within its target range is being conducted for as much as $75 billion, the Fed said in a statement. Securities eligible for collateral include Treasury, agency debt and mortgage-backed securities.
In an overnight system repo, the Fed lends cash to primary dealers against Treasury securities or other collateral. The operation was “commonplace before the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet in 2009,” according to a research note by Wrightson ICAP (LON:), which became its primary tool for implementing monetary policy.
The interest rate for overnight loans collateralized by Treasury securities, which normally stays in the vicinity of the Federal Reserve’s target for the federal funds rate, spiked an intraday high 8% on Monday and soared to 8.75% on Tuesday, based on ICAP pricing. The fed funds target, which the central bank is expected to cut by a quarter point on Wednesday, is 2%-2.25%.
Surges in the repo rate normally occur only at quarter-end, sometimes month-end. The mid-month surge was attributed to a confluence of events that knocked cash reserves in the banking system out of balance with the volume of securities on dealer balance sheets: a corporate tax payment date, settlement of last week’s Treasury auctions, and last week’s bond-market selloff, in which investors sold securities back to dealers.
“This is certainly painful for firms that have to fund positions,” said Thomas Simons, an economist at Jefferies LLC. “So it’s difficult for the dealer community. But it’s not systemically threatening.”
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