The Federal Reserve, Reverse Repo, Collateral and Benchmarking
The Federal Reserve’s reverse repo facility (RRF) is currently being tested as a mechanism for absorbing cash in financial markets while potentially helping set US interest rate benchmarks in the future. Like any government intervention in the markets, the RRF offers opportunities and challenges, depending on which side of the equation market participants sit today. In this report, Finadium evaluates the current behavior of the RRF and what an expansion, and an ultimate move to market rates, would mean for banks, money market funds, Government-sponsored Entities (GSEs) and the markets.
With US$3.4 trillion in holdings, the Federal Reserve can be called the world’s largest hedge fund; conversations about the Fed reducing its bond buying strategy (“tapering”) have sent jitters through financial markets. But an increase in the Fed’s RRF to align with market rates would be equally dramatic. By offering better counterparty credit risk for treasury-backed overnight repo than private dealers, the Fed could, if it so chose, effectively take over the market and crowd out dealers looking for funding. Along the way, the Fed would flood the market with new investments for cash providers at attractive risk-adjusted rates, although still lower than what the private sector would offer to large counterparties. A move by GSEs from uncollateralized Fed Funds investments to repo would all but end the utility of Fed Funds as an interest rate benchmark, and with it Overnight Index Swaps (OIS) that rely on Fed Funds liquidity for pricing and validation. Lastly, the new facility encourages the question, what kind of exit strategy could the Fed utilize to secure a safe return to private sector repo activity in the future? All of these issues warrant careful analysis for both market participants and policy makers.
This report should be read by repo dealers, traders in interest rate linked securities, cash investors including money market funds, securities lending agents and beneficial owners, and by policy makers looking for greater insight into the consequences of a significant new monetary policy.
This report is 34 pages with 14 exhibits.
Please visit our blog for a correction to this report.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
■ Executive Summary
■ The Big Boom
■ Mapping the Influx of New Supply
– The Mechanics of New Collateral Flows
– How the Fed Absorbs Liquidity
– SOMA vs. the Reverse Repo Facility
■ Winner and Losers from the New Facility
– Primary Dealers and Repo Dealers
– Money Market Funds
– Government-sponsored Entities
■ Should Repo Be the US Interest Rate Benchmark?
■ Fire Sale Risk and Pricing for Other Assets
■ No Exit Strategy
■ About the Author
■ About Finadium