Securing Secured Finance: The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility
The asset-backed securities (ABS) market, by supporting loans to households and businesses such as credit card and student loans, is essential to the flow of credit in the economy. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this market, resulting in higher interest rate spreads on ABS and halting the issuance of most ABS asset classes. On March 23, 2020, the Fed established the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) to facilitate the issuance of ABS backed by a variety of loan types including student loans, credit card loans, and loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), thereby re-enabling the flow of credit to households and businesses of all sizes. In this post, we describe how the TALF works, its impact on market conditions, and how it differs from the TALF that the Fed established in 2009.
A Monthly Peek into Americans’ Credit During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Total household debt was roughly flat in the second quarter of 2020, according to the latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit from the New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data. But, for the first time, the dynamics in household debt balances were driven primarily by a sharp decline in credit card balances, as consumer spending plummeted. In an effort to gain greater clarity, the New York Fed and the Federal Reserve System have acquired monthly updates for the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel, based on anonymized Equifax credit report data. We’ve been closely watching the data as they roll in, and here we present six key takeaways on the consumer balance sheet in the months since COVID-19 hit.
Reconsidering the Phase One Trade Deal with China in the Midst of the Pandemic
It may be hard to remember given the pandemic, but trade tensions between the United States and China eased in January 2020 with the inking of the Phase One agreement. Under the deal, China committed to a massive increase in its purchases of U.S. goods and services, with targets set for various types of products. At the time of the pact, the U.S. economy was operating near full capacity, and any increase in U.S. exports stemming from the pact would likely have resulted in only a small boost to growth. The environment is now starkly different, with the U.S. economy operating far below potential. While the promised increase in Chinese purchases seems unlikely to be achieved, any appreciable increase in exports from the agreement could deliver a meaningful boost to the economy.
Tracking the COVID-19 Economy with the Weekly Economic Index (WEI)
At the end of March, we launched the Weekly Economic Index (WEI) as a tool to monitor changes in real activity during the pandemic. The rapid deterioration in economic conditions made it important to assess developments as soon as possible, rather than waiting for monthly and quarterly data to be released. In this post, we describe how the WEI has measured the effects of COVID-19. So far in 2020, the WEI has synthesized daily and weekly data to measure GDP growth remarkably well. We document this performance, and we offer some guidance on evaluating the WEI’s forecasting abilities based on 2020 data and interpreting WEI updates and revisions.
The Federal Reserve’s Large-Scale Repo Program
The repo market faced extraordinary liquidity strains in March amid broader financial market volatility related to the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty regarding the path of policy. The strains were particularly severe in the term repo market, in which borrowing and lending arrangements are for longer than one business day. In this post, we discuss the causes of the liquidity disruptions that arose in the repo market as well as the Federal Reserve’s actions to address those disruptions.