Since the financial crisis of 2007-09—and, in particular, the run on prime money market funds (MMFs) in September 2008—policymakers have been concerned that the funds’ fragility may render banks themselves more susceptible to risk.
On July 6, 2011, the Task Force on Tri-Party Repo Infrastructure—an industry group sponsored by the New York Fed—released a Progress Report in which it reaffirmed the goal of eliminating the wholesale “unwind” of repos (and the requisite extension of more than a trillion dollars of intraday credit by repo clearing banks), but acknowledged unspecified delays in achieving that goal. The “unwind” is the settlement of repos that currently takes place each morning and replaces credit from investors with credit from the clearing banks. As I explain in this post, by postponing settlement until the afternoon and thereby linking the settlement of new and maturing repos, the proposed new settlement approach could help stabilize the tri-party repo market by eliminating the incentive for investors to withdraw funds from a dealer simply because they believe other investors will do the same. In effect, eliminating the unwind can reduce the risk of the equivalent of bank runs in the repo market, or “repo runs.”