Fed Reveals Rate Hike "Plumbing" Details: Removes Cap On Reverse Repos, Limits Each Counterparty To $30 Billion

Perhaps even more important than the actual rate hike announcement, the one statement the market was particularly focused on was the Fed's "implementation note", which lays out the Fed's thought process on how it will actually raise rates in order to maintain the Fed Funds in the 0.25%-0.50% range. What it reveals is that in addition to removing the daily limit on aggregate borrowings through its overnight reverse repurchase facility, previously set at $300 billion (recall that according to Citi, the Fed may need to drain up to $1 trillion in excess liquidity to effect the 25 bps hike), it will have a per counterparty limit of $30 billion per day, which may or may not be enough.

Separately, the Simon Potter's desk at the NY Fed announced "that the Desk anticipates that around $2 trillion of Treasury securities will be available for ON RRP operations to fulfill the FOMC’s domestic policy directive."

What is missing from the analysis is how the Fed will approach the fact that securities pledged to the Fed remain outside of the traditional repo pathway, and thus the liquidity shortage among the treasury market is likely to continue if not worsen.

Most of these are in line with expectations. Now it remains to be seen if these theoretically necessary measures will also be practically sufficient.

The full details from the FED:

Decisions Regarding Monetary Policy Implementation

  • 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 16, 2015:
  • The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System voted unanimously to raise the interest rate paid on required and excess reserve balances to 0.50 percent, effective December 17, 2015.

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 17, 2015, 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 1/4 to 1/2 percent, including: (1) 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 0.25 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; and (2) term reverse repurchase operations to the extent approved in the resolution on term RRP operations approved by the Committee at its March 17-18, 2015, meeting.

 

The Committee directs the Desk to continue rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction and to continue reinvesting principal payments on all agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. 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."

 

More information regarding open market operations may be found on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's website.

 

In a related action, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System voted unanimously to approve a 1/4 percentage point increase in the discount rate (the primary credit rate) to 1.00 percent, effective December 17, 2015. In taking this action, the Board approved requests submitted by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco.

 

This information will be updated as appropriate to reflect decisions of the Federal Open Market Committee or the Board of Governors regarding details of the Federal Reserve's operational tools and approach used to implement monetary policy.

And from the NY Fed:

During its meeting on December 15–16, 2015, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) directed the Open Market Trading Desk (the Desk) at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (New York Fed), effective December 17, 2015, to undertake open market operations as necessary to maintain the federal funds rate in a target range of ¼ to ½ percent, including overnight reverse repurchase operations (ON RRPs) at an offering rate of 0.25 percent, in amounts limited only by the value of Treasury securities held outright in the System Open Market Account (SOMA) that are available for such operations and by a per-counterparty limit of $30 billion per day.

 

To determine the value of Treasury securities available for ON RRP operations, several factors need to be taken into account, as not all Treasury securities held outright in the SOMA will be available for use in such operations. First, some of the Treasury securities held outright in the SOMA are needed to conduct reverse repurchase agreements with foreign official and international accounts. Second, some Treasury securities are needed to support the securities lending operations conducted by the Desk. Additionally, buffers are needed to provide for possible changes in demand for these activities and for possible changes in the market value of the SOMA’s holdings of Treasury securities.

 

Taking these factors into account, the Desk anticipates that around $2 trillion of Treasury securities will be available for ON RRP operations to fulfill the FOMC’s domestic policy directive. In the highly unlikely event that the value of bids received in an ON RRP operation exceeds the amount of available securities, the Desk will allocate awards using a single-price auction based on the stop-out rate at which the overall size limit is reached, with all bids below this rate awarded in full at the stop-out rate and all bids at this rate awarded on a pro rata basis at the stop-out rate.

 

These ON RRP operations will be open to all eligible RRP counterparties, will settle same-day, and will have an overnight tenor unless a longer term is warranted to accommodate weekend, holiday, and other similar trading conventions. Each eligible counterparty is permitted to submit one proposition for each ON RRP operation, in a size not to exceed $30 billion and at a rate not to exceed the specified offering rate. The operations will take place from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. (Eastern Time). Any changes to these terms will be announced with at least one business day’s prior notice on the New York Fed’s website.

The results of these operations will be posted on the New York Fed’s website. The outstanding amounts of RRPs are reported on the Federal Reserve’s H.4.1 statistical release as a factor absorbing reserves in Table 1 and as a liability item in Tables 5 and 6.

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