Finance and Economics Discussion Series (FEDS)
Demand Segmentation in the Federal Funds Market
This paper outlines a model of demand segmentation in the federal funds market with two types of borrowers - the "interest on reserves (IOR) arbitrage" type and the "regulatory" type - which have different reservation prices and cannot always be separated. When fed funds trade above IOR, the "regulatory" type is revealed and consequently pays an interest rate closer to its real reservation price, pushing the fed funds rate further up. When fed funds trade below IOR, a decrease in the fed funds rate encourages entry in the market for IOR arbitrage purposes thus counteracting the downward pressure on the fed funds rate. We use probit regression models and daily data for the period April 2018 to February 2020 to provide empirical support for this model. We find the following: 1) When fed funds trade above IOR, there is, on average, a 10 percentage points increase in the probability that the fed funds rate increases the following period. Furthermore, analysis using confidential bank-level data shows that this increase in the probability is higher for banks that report their liquidity profile daily and that were present all trading days during this period. 2) When the fed funds trade below IOR, the probability of a decrease in the fed funds rate decreases with the widening of the spread between the fed funds rate and IOR.
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