A New Reserves Regime? COVID-19 and the Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
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 ...
Money Market Funds and the New SEC Regulation
On October 14, 2016, amendments to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule 2a-7, which governs money market mutual funds (MMFs), went into effect. The changes are designed to reduce MMFs? susceptibility to destabilizing runs and contain two principal requirements. First, institutional prime and muni funds?but not retail or government funds?must now compute their net asset values (NAVs) using market-based factors, thereby abandoning the fixed NAV that had been a hallmark of the MMF industry. Second, all prime and muni funds must adopt a system of gates and fees on redemptions, which can ...
The Market Events of Mid-September 2019
This paper studies the mid-September 2019 stress in U.S. money markets: On September 16 and 17, unsecured and secured funding rates spiked up and, on September 17, the effective federal funds rate broke the ceiling of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) target range. We highlight two factors that may have contributed to these events. First, reserves may have become scarce for at least some depository institutions, in the sense that these institutions’ reserve holdings may have been close to, or lower than, their desired level. Moreover, frictions in the interbank market may have ...
The Market Events of Mid-September 2019
This article studies the mid-September 2019 stress in U.S. money markets: On September 16 and 17, unsecured and secured funding rates spiked, and on September 17, the effective federal funds rate broke the ceiling of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) target range. We highlight two factors that may have contributed to these events. First, reserves may have become scarce for at least some depository institutions, in the sense that these institutions’ reserve holdings may have been close to, or lower than, their desired level. Moreover, frictions in the interbank market may have ...
Municipal Debt Markets and the COVID-19 Pandemic
In March, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the market for municipal securities was severely stressed: mutual fund redemptions sparked unprecedented selling of municipal securities, yields increased sharply, and issuance dried up. In this post, we describe the evolution of municipal bond market conditions since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. We show that conditions in municipal markets have improved significantly, in part a result of the announcement and implementation of several Federal Reserve facilities. Yields have decreased substantially, mutual funds ...
The Premium for Money-Like Assets
Several academic papers have documented investors? willingness to pay a premium to hold money-like assets and focused on its implications for financial stability. In a New York Fed staff report, we estimate such premium using a quasi-natural experiment, the recent reform of the money market fund (MMF) industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
How Bank Reserves Are Distributed Matters. How You Measure Their Distribution Matters Too.
Changes in the distribution of banks’ reserve balances are important since they may impact conditions in the federal funds market and alter trading dynamics in money markets more generally. In this post, we propose using the Lorenz curve and Gini coefficient as a new approach to measuring reserve concentration. Since 2013, concentration, as captured by the Lorenz curve and the Gini coefficient, has co-moved with aggregate reserves, decreasing as aggregate reserves declined (such as in 2015-18) and increasing as aggregate reserves increased (such as at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic).
Sophisticated and Unsophisticated Runs
In March 2020, U.S. prime money market funds (MMFs) suffered heavy outflows following the liquidity shock triggered by the COVID-19 crisis. In a previous post, we characterized the run on the prime MMF industry as a whole and the role of the liquidity facility established by the Federal Reserve (the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility) in stemming the run. In this post, based on a recent Staff Report, we contrast the behaviors of retail and institutional investors during the run and explain the different reasons behind the run.
Competition, reach for yield, and money market funds
Do asset managers reach for yield because of competitive pressures in a low-rate environment? I propose a tournament model of money market funds (MMFs) to study this issue. When funds care about relative performance, an increase in the risk premium leads funds with lower default costs to increase risk-taking, while funds with higher default costs decrease risk-taking. Without changes in the premium, lower risk-free rates reduce the risk-taking of all funds. I show that these predictions are consistent with MMF risk-taking during the 2002-08 period and that rank-based performance is indeed a ...
Outflows from Bank-Loan Funds during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant pressure on debt markets, especially those populated by riskier borrowers. The leveraged loan market, in particular, came under remarkable stress during the month of March. Bank-loan mutual funds, among the main holders of leveraged loans, suffered massive outflows that were reminiscent of the outflows they experienced during the 2008 crisis. In this post, we show that the flow sensitivity of the loan-fund industry to the COVID-19 crisis (and to negative shocks more generally) seems to be even greater than that of high-yield bond funds, which also ...