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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 ...
How the New Fed Municipal Bond Facility Capped Muni-Treasury Yield Spreads in the COVID-19 Recession
For over two centuries, the municipal bond market has been a source of systemic risk, which returned early in the COVID-19 downturn when borrowing from securities markets became costly for many private and public entities, and some found it difficult to borrow at all. Indeed, just before the Fed announced its unprecedented intervention into the municipal (muni) bond market, spreads of muni over Treasury yields rose in line with the unemployment rate and appeared headed to levels not seen since the Great Depression, when real municipal gross investment plunged 35 percent below 1929 levels. To ...
COVID Response: The Municipal Liquidity Facility
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments were among the sectors expected to experience the most severe distress. The combination of a sharply deteriorating revenue picture, a pressing need for additional expenditures, delays in the receipt of substantial taxes owed, and an inability to access the financial markets raised serious concerns among many observers about the ability of state and local governments to meet their public service delivery responsibilities. In April 2020, the Federal Reserve announced the establishment of the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) to ...
The Option Value of Municipal Liquidity: Evidence from Federal Lending Cutoffs during COVID-19
We estimate the option value of municipal liquidity by studying bond market activity and public sector hiring decisions when government budgets are severely distressed. Using a regression discontinuity (RD) design, we exploit lending eligibility population cutoffs introduced by the federal sector’s Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) to study the effects of an emergency liquidity option on yields, primary debt issuance, and public sector employment. We find that while the announcement of the liquidity option improved overall municipal bond market functioning, lower-rated issuers additionally ...