Monthly Report on Credit and Liquidity Programs
and the Balance Sheet
|Overview||System Open Market Account||Lending Facilities to Support Overall Market Liquidity|
System Open Market Account
Domestic SOMA Portfolio
- The SOMA portfolio increased between December 29, 2010, and January 26, 2011. This development is consistent with the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC's) announcement of its intention to expand its holdings of Treasury securities in the SOMA portfolio by $600 billion by the end of the second quarter of this year.
- The FRBNY published on February 10, 2011, information on prices paid for securities included in outright Treasury operations from mid-January 2011 through mid-February 2011. The FRBNY also released the new outright Treasury operation schedule and announced plans to purchase approximately $97 billion in Treasury securities, which represents $80 billion of the announced $600 billion purchase program and $17 billion in purchases associated with principal payments from agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS), expected to be received between mid-February and mid-March 2011. Details are available online at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/tot_operation_schedule.html.
- On January 31, 2011, the FRBNY further expanded its list of counterparties for conducting reverse repos, and on February 1, 2011, announced revised eligibility criteria for the inclusion of additional counterparties. To prepare for the potential need to conduct large-scale reverse repos, the FRBNY is developing arrangements with an expanded set of counterparties with which it can conduct these transactions. These counterparties are in addition to the existing set of primary dealer counterparties, with which the Federal Reserve can already conduct reverse repos. Further information on reverse repo counterparties is available online at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/rrp_announcements.html.
- Effective February 2, 2011, the FRBNY also added two new primary dealers, MF Global Inc. and SG Americas Securities, LLC. The complete list of primary dealers is available online at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/pridealers_current.html.
- As announced on January 10, 2011, the FRBNY began a process to streamline the administration of agency MBS held in the SOMA portfolio by consolidating these securities through a service offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac called CUSIP aggregation. A list of agency MBS holdings, including those aggregated, is available online at www.ny.frb.org/markets/soma/sysopen_accholdings.html.
Open market operations (OMOs)--the purchase and sale of securities in the open market by a central bank--are a key tool used by the Federal Reserve in the implementation of monetary policy. Historically, the Federal Reserve has used OMOs to adjust the supply of reserve balances so as to keep the federal funds rate around the target federal funds rate established by the FOMC. OMOs are conducted by the Trading Desk at the FRBNY, which acts as agent for the FOMC. The range of securities that the Federal Reserve is authorized to purchase and sell is relatively limited. The authority to conduct OMOs is granted under Section 14 of the Federal Reserve Act.
OMOs can be divided into two types: permanent and temporary. Permanent OMOs are outright purchases or sales of securities for the SOMA, the Federal Reserve's portfolio. Permanent OMOs traditionally have been used to accommodate the longer-term factors driving the expansion of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet, principally the trend growth of currency in circulation. More recently, the expansion of SOMA securities holdings has been driven by large-scale asset purchase programs (LSAPs). Temporary OMOs typically are used to address reserve needs that are deemed to be transitory in nature. These operations are either repurchase agreements (repos) or reverse repurchase agreements (reverse repos). Under a repo, the Trading Desk buys a security under an agreement to resell that security in the future; under a reverse repo, the Trading Desk sells a security under an agreement to repurchase that security in the future. A repo is the economic equivalent of a collateralized loan; conversely, a reverse repo is the economic equivalent of collateralized borrowing. In both types of transactions, the difference between the purchase and sale prices reflects the interest on the loan or borrowing. The composition of the SOMA is presented in table 2.
Table 2. Domestic SOMA securities holdings
Billions of dollars, as of January 26, 2011
|Security type||Total par value|
|U.S. Treasury bills||18|
|U.S. Treasury notes and bonds, nominal||1,040|
|U.S. Treasury notes and bonds, inflation-indexed1||56|
|Federal agency debt securities2||145|
|Total SOMA securities holdings||2,224|
1. Includes inflation compensation. Return to table
2. Direct obligations of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. Return to table
3. Guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Current face value of the securities, which is the remaining principal balance of the underlying mortgages. Return to table
Each OMO affects the Federal Reserve's balance sheet; the size and nature of the effect depend on the specifics of the operation. The Federal Reserve publishes its balance sheet each week in the H.4.1 statistical release, "Factors Affecting Reserve Balances of Depository Institutions and Consolidated Statement of Condition of Reserve Banks," available at www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h41. The release separately reports securities held outright, repos, and reverse repos.
In addition, the Federal Reserve has long operated an overnight securities lending facility as a vehicle to address market pressures for specific Treasury securities. Since July 9, 2009, this facility has also lent housing-related government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) debt securities that are particularly sought after. Amounts outstanding under this facility are reported weekly in table 1A of the H.4.1 statistical release.
The FRBNY's traditional counterparties for OMOs are the primary dealers with which the FRBNY trades U.S. government and select other securities. In early 2010, the FRBNY revised its policy regarding the administration of its relationships with primary dealers in order to provide greater transparency about the significant business standards expected of primary dealers and to offer clearer guidance on the process to become a primary dealer. The revised policy offers a more structured presentation of the business standards expected of a primary dealer; a more formal application process for prospective primary dealers; an increase in the minimum net capital requirement, from $50 million to $150 million; a seasoning requirement of one year of relevant operations before a prospective dealer may submit an application; and a clear notice of actions the FRBNY may take against a noncompliant primary dealer. Since late 2009, the FRBNY has taken steps to expand the types of counterparties for some OMOs to include entities other than primary dealers. Details on the counterparty expansion effort are presented below.
In November 2008, the Federal Reserve announced that it would buy direct obligations of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks, and MBS guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. The goal of these debt purchases was to reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for the purchase of houses. In March 2009, the FOMC authorized purchases of up to $1.25 trillion of agency MBS and up to $200 billion of agency direct obligations. Subsequently, in November 2009, the FOMC announced that agency debt purchases would be about $175 billion. This amount, while somewhat less than the previously announced maximum of $200 billion, was consistent with the path of purchases and reflected the limited availability of agency debt.
The Federal Reserve also determined that supporting the MBS "dollar roll" market promoted the goals of the MBS purchase program. Dollar roll transactions consist of a purchase or sale of "to be announced" (TBA) MBS combined with an agreement to sell or purchase TBA MBS on a specified future date. Because of principal and interest payments and occasional delays in the settlement of transactions, the Federal Reserve also holds some cash and short-term investments associated with the MBS purchase program. On June 28, 2010, the Federal Reserve began entering into coupon swaps, which are trades with a single counterparty in which the Federal Reserve agrees to simultaneously sell TBA MBS in one coupon and to buy an equal face value of TBA MBS in a different coupon. MBS dollar roll transactions and coupon swaps are recorded on settlement date and may generate realized gains and losses.
In March 2009, the FOMC announced that it would also purchase up to $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities to help improve conditions in private credit markets. The Federal Reserve purchased a range of securities across the maturity spectrum, including Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). The bulk of purchases were in intermediate maturities. In August 2009, the FOMC announced that it would gradually slow the pace of these transactions in order to promote a smooth transition in markets as purchases of these Treasury securities were completed. As anticipated, the purchases were completed by the end of October 2009.
The FRBNY announced in August 2009 that it would streamline the set of external investment managers for the agency-guaranteed MBS purchase program, reducing the number of investment managers from four to two. As of March 2, 2010, the FRBNY began to use its own staff on select days to transact directly in the secondary market for agency MBS as part of the FOMC's LSAPs, consistent with the announcement of November 2009. These changes were not performance-related: the FRBNY had anticipated that it would adjust its use of external investment managers as it gained more experience with the program.
In September 2009, the Federal Reserve began to purchase on-the-run agency securities--the most recently issued securities--in order to mitigate market dislocations and promote overall market functioning. Prior to this change, purchases were focused on off-the-run agency securities.
On September 23, 2009, the FOMC announced its intention to gradually slow the pace of its purchases of agency-guaranteed MBS and agency debt. In implementing this directive, the Trading Desk of the FRBNY announced that it would scale back the average weekly purchase amounts of agency MBS and reduce the size and frequency of agency debt purchases. As anticipated by the FOMC, these transactions were completed by the end of the first quarter of 2010. As of August 19, 2010, the settlement of all remaining outstanding MBS from these purchases was complete. The Federal Reserve's outright holdings of MBS are reported weekly in tables 1, 3, 8, and 9 of the H.4.1 statistical release. In addition, detailed data on all settled agency MBS holdings are published weekly on the FRBNY website at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/soma/sysopen_accholdings.html.
On August 10, 2010, the FOMC announced that the Federal Reserve would maintain the level of domestic securities holdings in the SOMA portfolio by reinvesting principal payments from agency debt and agency MBS in longer-term Treasury securities. As of August 4, 2010, outright holdings of securities in the SOMA portfolio totaled roughly $2 trillion.
On November 3, 2010, the FOMC decided to expand its holdings of securities and announced that, in addition to maintaining the existing reinvestment policy, it intends to purchase a further $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter of 2011. The statement noted that the FOMC will regularly review the pace of its securities purchases and the overall size of the asset-purchase program in light of incoming information and adjust the program as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.
In conjunction with the FOMC's November 3, 2010, announcement, the FRBNY announced its plan to execute the FOMC's existing reinvestment plan along with the additional Treasury purchases through the second quarter of 2011. The FRBNY also announced the distribution of maturities of securities it plans to purchase. In addition, in order to promote transparency in the market, the FRBNY announced that it will publish the prices at which the securities are purchased at the end of each scheduled monthly purchase period. Finally, to provide operational flexibility and to ensure that it is able to purchase the most attractive securities on a relative-value basis, the FRBNY announced that it would temporarily relax the 35 percent per-issue limit on SOMA holdings under which it had been operating. On December 20, 2010, the FRBNY provided additional detail on the increments by which SOMA holdings of individual Treasury securities would be allowed to rise above the 35 percent threshold. Additional information is available at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/lttreas_faq.html. The FRBNY publishes a tentative schedule for Treasury security purchases at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/tot_operation_schedule.html.
In December 2009, the FRBNY conducted its first set of small-scale, real-value, triparty reverse repos with primary dealers. Reverse repos are a tool that could be used to support a reduction in monetary accommodation at the appropriate time. Under a reverse repo, the FRBNY Trading Desk sells a security under an agreement to repurchase that security in the future. A reverse repo is the economic equivalent of collateralized borrowing. The FRBNY periodically conducts these transactions to ensure operational readiness at the Federal Reserve, the major clearing banks, and the primary dealers; the transactions had no material impact on the availability of reserves or on market rates.
In August 2010, the FRBNY conducted another series of small-scale, real-value reverse repos with primary dealers using all eligible collateral types, including, for the first time, agency MBS from the SOMA portfolio. Since late 2009, the FRBNY has taken steps to expand the types of counterparties for some OMOs to include entities other than primary dealers. On March 8, 2010, the FRBNY announced the beginning of a program to expand its counterparties for conducting reverse repos. This expansion was intended to enhance the capacity of such operations to drain reserves beyond what could likely be conducted through primary dealers. The additional counterparties are not eligible to participate in transactions conducted by the FRBNY other than reverse repos.
In this context, the FRBNY published the Reverse Repurchase Transaction Eligibility Criteria for Money Funds for the first set of expanded counterparties, domestic money market mutual funds, and, on April 30, 2010, published the Reverse Repurchase Program Form Master Repurchase Agreement for Money Funds, which sets out the legal terms and conditions under which the FRBNY and its money market mutual fund counterparties may undertake reverse repos.
On August 18, 2010, the FRBNY published a list of money market funds eligible to participate as counterparties to reverse repos with the Federal Reserve. Each listed fund submitted an application and meets the criteria published by the FRBNY on March 8, 2010. Inclusion on the list does not constitute a public endorsement by the FRBNY of any listed counterparty and should not substitute for prudent counterparty risk management and due diligence.
On September 23, 2010, the FRBNY published the Reverse Repurchase Transaction Eligibility Criteria for Money Funds II, allowing a second wave of money market mutual funds to apply to participate in reverse repo transactions with the FRBNY. The FRBNY also published an updated version of the Reverse Repurchase Program Form Master Repurchase Agreement for Money Funds, including applicable Annexes. The expanded counterparty list and updated criteria and master agreement are available on the FRBNY's website at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/rrp_announcements.html.
On October 12, 2010, the FRBNY announced another series of small-scale, real-value, triparty reverse repo transactions using all eligible collateral types. The first set of operations, conducted using only the expanded reverse repo transaction counterparties announced on August 18, 2010, commenced on October 13, 2010. The second set of operations, which was open to all eligible reverse repo counterparties, commenced on October 18 and was completed on October 27, 2010. The results of these operations are available on the FRBNY website at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/omo/dmm/temp.cfm. The outstanding amounts of reverse repos are reported weekly in tables 1, 2, 8, and 9 of the H.4.1 statistical release.
These activities with respect to reverse repos are a matter of prudent advance planning by the Federal Reserve. They do not represent any change in the stance of monetary policy, and no inference should be drawn about the timing of any change in the stance of monetary policy in the future.
Liquidity Arrangements with Foreign Central Banks (FCBs)
- Amounts outstanding under the dollar liquidity swap arrangements were little changed in January 2011. As presented in table 3, the total amount of liquidity provided under these lines was $0.1 billion as of January 26, 2011.
Because of the global character of bank funding markets, the Federal Reserve has at times coordinated with other central banks to provide liquidity. During the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve entered into agreements to establish temporary reciprocal currency arrangements (central bank liquidity swap lines) with a number of FCBs. Two types of temporary swap lines were established: dollar liquidity lines and foreign currency liquidity lines. These temporary arrangements expired on February 1, 2010. However, in May 2010, temporary dollar liquidity swap lines were re-established with certain FCBs in order to address the re-emergence of strains in global U.S. dollar short-term funding markets. In December 2010, the FOMC authorized an extension of the arrangements through August 1, 2011.
The FRBNY operates the swap lines under the authority granted under Section 14 of the Federal Reserve Act and in compliance with authorizations, policies, and procedures established by the FOMC.
Dollar Liquidity Swaps
On December 12, 2007, the FOMC announced that it had authorized dollar liquidity swap lines with the European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank to provide liquidity in U.S. dollars to overseas markets. Subsequently, the FOMC authorized dollar liquidity swap lines between the Federal Reserve and each of the following FCBs: the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Banco Central do Brasil, the Bank of Canada, the Bank of Japan, Danmarks Nationalbank, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Korea, the Banco de Mexico, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Norges Bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Sveriges Riksbank, and the Swiss National Bank. These temporary dollar liquidity swap arrangements expired on February 1, 2010. In May 2010, the FOMC re-authorized dollar liquidity swap lines with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, and the Swiss National Bank through January 2011. Subsequently, these arrangements were extended through August 1, 2011.
Table 3. Amounts outstanding under dollar liquidity swaps
As of January 26, 2011
|Bank of Canada||__||__||__||__|
|Bank of England||__||__||__||__|
|Bank of Japan||__||__||__||__|
|European Central Bank||0.1||1/20/2011||7-Day||1.18%|
|Swiss National Bank||__||__||__||__|
Swaps under these lines consist of two transactions. When an FCB draws on its swap line with the FRBNY, the FCB sells a specified amount of its currency to the FRBNY in exchange for dollars at the prevailing market exchange rate. The FRBNY holds the foreign currency in an account at the FCB. The dollars that the FRBNY provides are then deposited in an account that the FCB maintains at the FRBNY. At the same time, the FRBNY and the FCB enter into a binding agreement for a second transaction that obligates the FCB to buy back its currency on a specified future date at the same exchange rate. The second transaction unwinds the first at the same exchange rate used in the initial transaction; as a result, the recorded value of the foreign currency amounts is not affected by changes in the market exchange rate. At the conclusion of the second transaction, the FCB compensates the FRBNY at a market-based interest rate.
When the FCB lends the dollars it obtained by drawing on its swap line to institutions in its jurisdiction, the dollars are transferred from the FCB account at the FRBNY to the account of the bank that the borrowing institution uses to clear its dollar transactions. The FCB is obligated to return the dollars to the FRBNY under the terms of the agreement, and the FRBNY is not a counterparty to the loan extended by the FCB. The FCB bears the credit risk associated with the loans it makes to institutions in its jurisdiction.
The foreign currency that the Federal Reserve acquires in these transactions is recorded as an asset on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet. In tables 1, 8, and 9 of the weekly H.4.1 statistical release, the dollar value of amounts that the FCBs have drawn but not yet repaid is reported in the line entitled "Central bank liquidity swaps." Dollar liquidity swaps have maturities ranging from overnight to three months. Table 2 of the H.4.1 statistical release reports the maturity distribution of the outstanding dollar liquidity swaps. Detailed information about drawings on the swap lines by the participating FCBs is presented on the FRBNY's website at www.newyorkfed.org/markets/fxswap.
Foreign-Currency Liquidity Swap Lines
On April 6, 2009, the FOMC announced foreign-currency liquidity swap lines with the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, and the Swiss National Bank. These lines were designed to provide the Federal Reserve with the capacity to offer liquidity to U.S. institutions in foreign currency should a need arise. These lines mirrored the existing dollar liquidity swap lines, which provided FCBs with the capacity to offer U.S. dollar liquidity to financial institutions in their jurisdictions. Foreign-currency swap lines provided the Federal Reserve with the ability to address financial strains by providing foreign currency-denominated liquidity to U.S. institutions in amounts of up to £30 billion (sterling), €80 billion (euro), ¥10 trillion (yen), and CHF 40 billion (Swiss francs). The Federal Reserve did not draw on these swap lines, and they expired on February 1, 2010.