Fed Extends "Temporary" Repo Operations From January To "At Least" April, Hikes IOER

While the Fed's January statement was a snoozer, with the only difference from the December statement being the downgrade in the pace of household spending rising at a "moderate" vs "strong" pace, there were far more notable changes in the latest monetary policy implementation note, which - as many expected - saw the rate which the Fed is paying on excess reserves (IOER) hiked by 5bps to 1.6% , or "10 basis points above the bottom of the target range for the federal funds rate" which currently is at 1.50%.

The other notable change from the December meeting is that the Fed is now extending its duration of its repo operations, which in December were supposed to conclude in January 2020, to "at least" April 2020.

And while there was no comment or change to the Fed's QE4, it was this extension to the deadline of repo that boosted stocks in kneejerk reaction, as it means the Fed continues to believe the crisis situation that emerged after the September repo crisis will continue through at least April, even though repo rates have long ago stabilized.

The Committee also directs the Desk to continue conducting term and overnight repurchase agreement operations at least through April 2020 to ensure that the supply of reserves remains ample even during periods of sharp increases in non-reserve liabilities, and to mitigate the risk of money market pressures that could adversely affect policy implementation

The full statement is below:

The Federal Reserve has made the following decisions to implement the monetary policy stance announced by the Federal Open Market Committee in its statement on December 11, 2019:

  • The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System voted unanimously to maintain the interest rate paid on required and excess reserve balances at 1.55 percent, effective December 12, 2019.
  • As part of its policy decision, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to authorize and direct the Open Market Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, until instructed otherwise, to execute transactions in the System Open Market Account in accordance with the following domestic policy directive:
    • "Effective December 12, 2019, the Federal Open Market Committee directs the Desk to undertake open market operations as necessary to maintain the federal funds rate in a target range of 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 percent. In light of recent and expected increases in the Federal Reserve's non-reserve liabilities, the Committee directs the Desk to continue purchasing Treasury bills at least into the second quarter of 2020 to maintain over time ample reserve balances at or above the level that prevailed in early September 2019. The Committee also directs the Desk to continue conducting term and overnight repurchase agreement operations at least through January 2020 to ensure that the supply of reserves remains ample even during periods of sharp increases in non-reserve liabilities, and to mitigate the risk of money market pressures that could adversely affect policy implementation. In addition, the Committee directs the Desk to conduct overnight reverse repurchase operations (and reverse repurchase operations with maturities of more than one day when necessary to accommodate weekend, holiday, or similar trading conventions) at an offering rate of 1.45 percent, in amounts limited only by the value of Treasury securities held outright in the System Open Market Account that are available for such operations and by a per-counterparty limit of $30 billion per day.
    • The Committee directs the Desk to continue rolling over at auction all principal payments from the Federal Reserve's holdings of Treasury securities and to continue reinvesting all principal payments from the Federal Reserve's holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities received during each calendar month. Principal payments from agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities up to $20 billion per month will continue to be reinvested in Treasury securities to roughly match the maturity composition of Treasury securities outstanding; principal payments in excess of $20 billion per month will continue to be reinvested in agency mortgage-backed securities. Small deviations from these amounts for operational reasons are acceptable.
    • The Committee also directs the Desk to engage in dollar roll and coupon swap transactions as necessary to facilitate settlement of the Federal Reserve's agency mortgage-backed securities transactions."
  • In a related action, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System voted unanimously to approve the establishment of the primary credit rate at the existing level of 2.25 percent.