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Document Type

Case Studies

Abstract

Beginning in summer 2007, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) was called upon to address a severe disruption in the interbank lending markets sparked by a downturn in the subprime mortgage market. As these developments began to impact the ability of banks to raise adequate funding, the Fed encouraged them to utilize the Discount Window (DW), its standing facility for lending to depository institutions, and repeatedly decreased the lending rate to make the facility more accessible. Despite the Fed’s efforts, for a number of reasons, including historical perceptions of stigma, banks were reluctant to utilize the DW. In December 2007, the Federal Reserve introduced the Term Auction Facility (TAF), which provided term loans via auction utilizing the same collateral that could have been used at the DW. The TAF was immediately and aggressively utilized and would become one of the largest facilities employed by the Fed to combat the financial crisis. Ultimately, the Fed lent a total of $3.8 trillion to 416 banks under the TAF. This case examines the Fed’s use of the DW and the TAF to provide liquidity to depository institutions in fighting the financial crisis.

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