Fed establishes standing repo facilities to support money markets

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC, U.S., August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

(Reuters) – The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday it will establish separate domestic and international standing repo facilities to backstop money markets during times of stress.

The domestic standing repo facility, or SRF, will conduct daily overnight repo operations against Treasury securities, agency debt securities and agency mortgage-backed securities.

Through the facility for foreign and international monetary authorities, known as the FIMA repo facility, the U.S. central bank will enter into overnight repo agreements as needed with foreign official institutions against their holdings of Treasury securities held at the New York Fed.

“These facilities will serve as backstops in money markets to support the effective implementation of monetary policy and smooth market functioning,” the Fed said in a statement after the end of its latest two-day policy meeting. [nL1N2P30V1]

Fed officials held detailed discussions at their June 15-16 policy meeting about how these programs might be designed, according to minutes from that meeting.

The Fed began intervening in money markets in September of 2019 when reserves in the banking system fell too low, leading to a spike in short-term borrowing rates. The central bank also increased its repo offerings in March of 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic led to a rush for cash.

Setting up permanent repo facilities may lessen the need for the Fed to be reactive when markets are disrupted and could help to keep short-term rates within the central bank’s target range.

The domestic standing repo facility will initially be open to primary dealers, a list of two dozen financial institutions that are trading counterparties with the New York Fed. It will later be expanded over time to include additional depository institutions, the Fed said in its statement here.

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