Document Type

Case Study

Case Series

Market Liquidity Programs

JEL Codes

G01, G28


As mortgage defaults and foreclosures continued to climb, the severe strains that started to plague credit markets in the middle of 2007 worsened further. Losses on housing-related securities and derivative instruments continued to climb, causing substantial damage to the balance sheets of large financial institutions that had levered up on these same securities. As their positions worsened, banks found it increasingly difficult to attract funding that wasn’t priced at exorbitantly high rates or for very short terms. Term funding markets, specifically those that centered on agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS), quickly dried up as fears of illiquidity and even insolvency spread. To remedy these concerns, the Federal Reserve announced a program called the Single-Tranche Term Repurchase Agreements, which auctioned off repurchase agreements (repos) to primary Dealers every week. This provided a critical source of funding to these institutions, which, at the time, could not access other avenues of funding, such as the discount window. The repos were short term, priced at market rates, and matured 28 days after the settlement date. Of the 20 institutions categorized as primary dealers at the beginning of 2008, 19 participated in the program, which had auctions running from March 7, 2008, to December 31, 2008. Usage peaked at, but never exceeded, $80 billion per month, though the Fed said in its initial press release that the program’s size could have gone up to $100 billion. While the program was smaller compared to other market liquidity initiatives, ST OMO operated at capacity for most of its duration, and spreads between agency MBS repo and Treasury repo rates fell dramatically toward the end of the issuance window.

Date Revised