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Dealers and the Dealer of Last Resort: Evidence from MBS Markets in the COVID-19 Crisis
We study price dislocations and liquidity provision by dealers and the Federal Reserve (Fed) as the “dealer of last resort” in agency MBS markets during the COVID-19 crisis. As customers sold MBS to “scramble for cash,” dealers provided liquidity by taking inventory in the cash market and hedging inventory risk in the forward market. The cash and forward prices diverged significantly beyond the difference in the quality of MBS traded on the two markets. The Fed first facilitated dealers’ inventory hedging and then took holdings off dealers’ inventory directly. The price ...
Asset Pricing with Cohort-Based Trading in MBS Markets
Agency MBSs with diverse characteristics are traded in parallel with individualized specified pool (SP) contracts and standardized to-be-announced (TBA) contracts. This parallel trading environment has distinctive effects on MBS pricing and trading: (1) Although cheapest-to-deliver (CTD) issues are present only in TBA contracts and absent from SP trading by definition, MBS heterogeneity associated with CTD discounts affects SP returns positively, with the effect stronger for lower-value SPs; (2) High selling pressure amplifies the effects of MBS heterogeneity on SP returns; (3) Greater MBS ...
Defragmenting Markets: Evidence from Agency MBS
Agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have historically traded in separate forward markets. We study the consequences of this fragmentation, showing that market liquidity endogenously concentrated in Fannie Mae MBS, leading to higher issuance and trading volume, lower transaction costs, higher security prices, and a lower primary market cost of capital for Fannie Mae. We then analyze a change in market design—the Single Security Initiative—which consolidated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac MBS trading into a single market in June 2019. We find that ...