US funding markets are awash with liquidity thanks to ongoing QE purchases by the Fed and the progression of fiscal policy since the end of the year, as well as normal seasonal tailwinds that see more liquidity after year-end balance sheet constraints would roll off. Funding markets refer to collateralized, short-term lending via repo and related wholesale cash transactions.
Government money market funds that are allowed to conduct repo operations as well as buying Treasury and Agency debt are seeing roughly typical inflows, but those come on top of record share of overall money market funds. As a result, repo rates have been plunging. The secured overnight financing rate, which tracks the volume-weighted general collateral repo rate has fallen to 3 basis points above the bottom of the Fed Funds target range. While repo rates falling below the Fed Funds target range wouldn’t be a catastrophe and some parts of the market have gotten there, it’s not in the FOMC’s interest to have funding rates trading far outside its target policy rate range on a regular basis.
The solution already exists, of course: the NY Fed has a standing overnight reverse repo facility first introduced back in 2013 which is likely to start draining cash as investors seek higher returns than the repo markets offer. Reserve scarcity, which roll-off brought to bear in 2018 and 2019, is now reserve plenty, and so many reserves exist that the NY Fed will start draining them with reverse repos. Reserve balances will continue to grow this year thanks to QE purchases and an expected decline in the balance of the federal government’s transaction account at the Federal Reserve. Like what you see? Click here for a free trial to any of Bespoke’s premium membership options, including our Fixed Income Weekly note that features market analysis of this kind.