Fed to step up liquidity injections to guard against market pressure

The New York Federal Reserve said Monday that it will increase the amount of money it is offering to banks for their short-term funding needs.

As part of its continuing efforts to make sure the funding, or repo, markets are working properly, the central bank said it will up the amount it offers in overnight operations from $100 billion to $150 billion through Thursday. 

In addition, it will increase the two-week repo operation offerings from at least $20 billion to at least $45 billion.

Repo operations involve banks posting high-quality collateral like Treasurys in exchange for operating cash.

The moves come amid market tumult on Wall Street that has seen Treasury yields hit record lows amid cascading oil prices and a falling stock market.

In its announcement, the Fed said the move is “intended to ensure that the supply of reserves remains ample and to mitigate the risk of money market pressures that could adversely affect policy implementation.”

However, the measure was met with immediate skepticism.

“This is a step in the right direction of providing additional liquidity to guard against money market / funding market pressures but it is a baby step – with only short-term changes, limited term funding and no global reach,” said Krishna Guha, head of global policy and central bank policy strategy at Evercore ISI.

Guha called for “much more” in terms of liquidity measures, including a formal extension of a $60 billion a month Treasury bill-buying program that could end in April. 

“We hope the Fed is just about to pull the trigger on these larger liquidity measures. If it is not we think market pressures will force the US central bank to do so within a short period of time. Either way we expect these measures to be in place this week and plausibly much sooner than that,” Guha said in a note to clients.

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