A crack just emerged in the financial markets
Borrowing rates skyrocketed on Tuesday in a corner of the markets the public rarely notices but that is critical to the functioning of the global financial system.
CONSTELLATION BRANDS, INC.
The spike in overnight borrowing rates forced the New York Federal Reserve to come to the rescue with a special operation aimed at easing stress in financial markets.
It was the NY Fed’s first such rescue operation in a decade, the last occurring in late 2008.
“It’s unprecedented, at least in the post-crisis era,” said Mark Cabana, rates strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
On Tuesday morning, the NY Fed launched what’s called an “overnight repo operation,” during which the central bank attempts to ease pressure in markets by purchasing Treasurys and other securities. The goal is to pump money into the system to keep borrowing costs from creeping above the Fed’s target range .
The first attempt by the NY Fed was canceled because of “technical difficulties.” Minutes later, the NY Fed successfully injected $53 billion into the system.
The episode demonstrates evidence of emerging strains in financial markets and raises concern that the Federal Reserve could be losing its grip on short-term rates.
“The funding markets are clearly stressed,” said Guy LeBas, managing director of fixed income strategy at Janney Capital Markets. “It’s going to require Fed action.”
The NY Fed announced plans late Tuesday to hold another repurchase agreement operation on Wednesday that would aim to repurchase up to an additional $75 billion.
The rate on overnight repurchase agreements hit 5% on Monday, according to Refinitiv data. That’s up from 2.29% late last week and well above the target range set in July by the Federal Reserve, which is 2% to 2.25%. The surge continued Tuesday, with the overnight rate hitting a high of 10% before the NY Fed stepped in.
Although it doesn’t get as much attention as the Dow or the 10-year Treasury rate, this overnight market plays a central role in modern finance. It allows banks to quickly and cheaply borrow money, for short periods of time, often to buy bonds like Treasurys. This market broke down during the 2008 financial crisis.
However, analysts drew a distinction between the current period of stress and what happened during the crisis. Back then, investors were deeply worried about the financial health of banks. Today, banks are hauling in record profits and balance sheets look sturdy.
It’s unclear what exactly is causing the stress in the overnight market, or how long it will last.
“No one knows why this is happening,” Jim Bianco CEO of Bianco Research, said on Twitter. “If it persists more than another day or two, it will be a problem.”
Related video: Trump trade adviser says Dow will break 30,000 if …
How to make money when the market tanks
Watching your investments fluctuate every day can be stressful, but losing money is part of the game. Don’t wait to start investing until you feel ready. Experts say the more time spent in the market, the better, and a dip in the market can offer more favorable prices. Watch this video for more tips on how to handle market volatility.CNBC
What an interest rate cut would mean for your money: ‘Not so good for savers’
Federal Reserve Bank leaders, working to prevent an economic slowdown, begin two days of meetings on Tuesday. Economists predict they will announce an interest rate cut of 25 basis points, or a quarter of a percent. It would be the second cut this year. CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss how this could affect your bottom line.CBS News
Where your old cardboard boxes end up
With more people shopping online, there’s a lot more cardboard in the recycling stream these days. Here’s a look at where all those discarded Amazon boxes go — it’s farther than you might think.The Wall Street Journal.
$1 trillion deficits and paying Uncle Sam
There are some theories.
Cabana, the Bank of America analyst, blamed the spike in overnight lending rates on the Fed badly underestimating the amount of cash needed to keep the financial system operating smoothly.
“The Fed just made a policy mistake,” Cabana said. “There is not enough cash in the banking system for the banks to meet all of their liquidity and regulatory needs. I’m not that worried, because the Fed will fix it.”
The catalyst for the stress, according to Cabana, was the fact that US companies withdrew vast sums of money from banks to make quarterly tax payments to the US Treasury Department. That forced banks to draw down their reserves at the Fed.
The rate spike may also be a symptom of the sharp increase in Treasury bonds being issued to fund the federal government. The federal deficit has spiked to $1 trillion this fiscal year because of the tax cuts and surge in government spending.
Banks typically buy Treasurys by borrowing in the overnight market. The jump in Treasury issuance caused a large increase in demand for short-term financing.
“The fundamental issue is there are just too many darn Treasurys out there,” Cabana said. “Both parties are to blame. The $1 trillion deficit will keep this an issue.”
The return of QE?
No matter the cause, more Fed action may be needed, including additional temporary NY Fed operations.
“They may have to do the same thing tomorrow morning,” said LeBas.
The Fed may also need to lower the interest it pays on excess bank reserves, or IOER. Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted the Fed will cut this rate slightly on Wednesday.
“That’s like a Band-Aid,” Cabana said.
As a longer-term solution, Barclays and Bank of America expect the Fed to begin expanding its balance sheet again by purchasing Treasurys. The Fed’s bond buying program, known as quantitative easing, or QE, was launched during the financial crisis to keep borrowing costs extremely low. As the economy healed, the Fed reversed course and started to shrink its balance sheet.
Cabana doesn’t think the Fed will call this QE, though he said it will work the same way. The central bank will grow its balance sheet by purchasing Treasurys.
“The Fed won’t admit this,” Cabana said, “but it looks and smells an awful lot like the monetary authority is financing the fiscal authority.”
Source : Link