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Gara Afonso, Marco Cipriani, Gabriele La Spada, and Will Riordan
Aggregate reserves declined from nearly $3 trillion in August 2014 to $1.4 trillion in mid-September 2019, as the Federal Reserve normalized its balance sheet. This decline came to a halt in September 2019 when the Federal Reserve responded to turmoil in short-term money markets, with reserves fluctuating around $1.6 trillion in the early months of 2020. Then, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve dramatically expanded its balance sheet, both directly, through outright purchases and repurchase agreements, and indirectly, as a consequence of the facilities to support market functioning and the flow of credit to the real economy. In this post, we characterize the increase in reserves between March and June 2020, describing changes to the distribution and concentration of reserves.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the Federal Reserve to pledge to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amount needed to support the smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to the economy. But some market participants have questioned whether something more might not be required, including possibly some form of direct yield curve control. In the first half of the 1940s the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sought to manage the level and shape of the Treasury yield curve. In this post, we examine what can be learned from the FOMC’s efforts of seventy-five years ago.
Gara Afonso, Fabiola Ravazzolo, and Alessandro Zori
How do changes in the rate that the Federal Reserve pays on reserves held by depository institutions affect rates in money markets in which the Fed does not participate? Through which channels do changes in the so-called administered rates reach rates in onshore and offshore U.S. dollar money markets? In this post, we answer these questions with the help of an interactive map that guides us through the web of interconnected relationships between the Fed, key market players, and the various instruments in the U.S. dollar funding market, highlighting the linkages across the short-term financial products that form this market.
Alyssa Cambron, Marco Cipriani, Joshua Jones, Romen Mookerjee, Scott Sherman, Brett Solimine, and Timothy Wessel
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently decided to revise the composition of the Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), a reference rate measuring the cost banks face to borrow overnight in unsecured U.S. dollar-denominated money markets. Specifically, in addition to the federal funds and Eurodollar transactions currently comprising the OBFR, the OBFR now also includes overnight, interest-bearing demand deposits (at rates negotiated between the counterparties and excluding deposits payable on demand) booked within banks’ U.S. offices, known as “selected deposits.” In this post, we discuss the change in more detail, the reason for including selected deposits, and the likely impact on the OBFR’s published values.
The price impact of a trade derives largely from its information content. The “workup” mechanism, a trading protocol used in the U.S. Treasury securities market, is designed to mitigate the instantaneous price impact of a trade by allowing market participants to trade additional quantities of a security after a buyer and seller first agree on its price. Nevertheless, workup trades are not necessarily free of information. In this post, we assess the role of workups in price discovery, following our recent paper in the Review of Asset Pricing Studies (an earlier version of which was released as a New York Fed staff report).
As a consequence of the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchases from 2008-14, banks’ reserve balances at the Fed have increased dramatically, rising from $10 billion in March 2008 to more than $2 trillion currently. In that new environment of abundant reserves, the FOMC put in place a framework for controlling the fed funds rate, using the interest rate that it offered to banks and a different, lower interest rate that it offered to non-banks (and banks). Now that the Fed has begun to gradually reduce its asset holdings, aggregate reserves are shrinking as well, and an important question becomes: How does a change in the level of aggregate reserves affect trading in the fed funds market? In our recent paper, we show that the answer depends not just on the aggregate size of reserve balances, as is sometimes assumed, but also on how reserves are distributed among banks. In particular, we show that a measure of the typical trade in the market known as the effective fed funds rate (EFFR) could rise above the rate paid on banks’ reserve balances if reserves remain heavily concentrated at just a few banks.
Note: This analysis provides insight into how the fed funds market might react to changes in the aggregate level of bank reserves. However, as it does not account for all relevant factors, it should not be construed as an analysis of any specific time period. In particular, our analysis does not incorporate the technical adjustment introduced by the FOMC on June 13 that lowered the interest paid on banks' reserves relative to the top of the target range.
In recent months, there have been some high-profile assessments of how far the Federal Reserve has come in terms of communicating about monetary policy since its “secrets of the temple” days. While observers say the transition to greater transparency “still seems to be a work in progress,” they note the range of steps the Fed has taken over the years to shed light on its strategy, including issuing statements to announce and explain policy changes following Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings, post-meeting press conferences and minutes, FOMC-member speeches and testimony, and “forward guidance” in all its variants.
Over the last decade, the federal funds market has evolved to accommodate new policy tools such as interest on reserves and the overnight reverse repo facility. Trading motives have also responded to the expansion in aggregate reserves as the result of large-scale asset purchases. These changes have affected market participants differently since, for instance, not all institutions are required to keep reserves at the Fed and some are not eligible to earn interest on reserves. Differential effects have changed the profile of participants willing to borrow and lend in this market, and this shift provides an opportunity to study how unconventional policy actions shape participant incentives. In today’s post, we take a detailed look at regulatory filings to identify the main players in today’s fed funds market and understand how their roles have evolved.
Few people know the Treasury market from as many angles as Ken Garbade, a senior vice president in the Money and Payments Studies area of the New York Fed’s Research Group. Ken taught financial markets at NYU’s graduate school of business for many years before heading to Wall Street to assume a position in the research department of the primary dealer division of Bankers Trust Company. At Bankers, Ken conducted relative-value research on the Treasury market, assessing how return varies relative to risk for particular Treasury securities. For a time, he also traded single-payment Treasury obligations known as STRIPS—although not especially successfully, he notes.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.
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The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
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