For a fourth straight day, the New York Federal Reserve Bank on Friday will inject billions into US money markets to preserve the US central bank’s control over short-term interest rates.
The New York Fed said in a statement on Thursday it will again conduct a repurchase agreement operation of up to $75 billion to offer more liquidity to the system that has been running short on cash.
It offered the same amounts in repo operations on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — for a total of just over $200 billion — but in the past two operations, demand outstripped the amount offered.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell this week showed little concern about the glitch in the crucial plumbing of US financial markets, arguing that it did not reflect on the real economy or monetary policy.
Powell and economists have attributed the liquidity crunch to huge cash withdrawals that sucked money out of banks — corporate tax payments that coincided with a surge in Treasury bond issuance, which shifted money out of the market and into government coffers.
When the withdrawals threaten to cause bank reserves to fall below required levels set by the Fed, banks use very short-term, usually overnight, borrowing to plug the hole.
The Fed also adds or removes liquidity to keep interest rates in line with the desired target, which is the job of the New York Fed.
But the shortage of cash in recent days prompted the New York Fed to pump just more than $275 billion into the short-term market as the interest rates demanded for overnight lending soared, threatening to break out of the Fed’s target range.
The central bank cut benchmark lending rates interest rate on Wednesday to provide a boost to the American economy, but also made some technical adjustments to help it maintain market rates in line with the range, including cutting the interest it offers on bank reserves held at the Fed that are in excess of the minimum required level.