Back to 2019

Published on May 30, 2023 by Free

The hedge fund community appears to have returned as the marginal buyer of cash Treasuries through a resurgence of the cash futures basis trade. The recent surge in Treasury repo volumes and record short Treasury futures positioning by hedge funds strongly suggest a revival of the trade, which was popular prior to 2020. This would indicate steady demand for cash Treasuries even as the Fed and commercial banks moved from large net buyers to net

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Probing LCLoR

Published on May 15, 2023 by Free

Bank reserves are on track to approach a common estimate of the Lowest Comfortable Level of Reserves (“LCLoR”) within a few months. At the moment, reserves sit around $3.2t and a common Fed estimate places LCLoR at around $2.2t (8% of GDP). In addition to quantitative tightening, two events may soon reduce bank reserves to around $2.2t. First, the RRP is likely to steadily increase as MMF assets continue to rise and FHLB debt issuance

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All Clear

Published on April 24, 2023 by Free

A wide range of data and commentary indicate that both the banking panic is over and that it had only a limited impact on credit availability. The March panic was fundamentally a problem of a few poorly managed banks and not a crisis. Investors are no longer running to money funds and now appear comfortable again with the banking system. Overall bank lending activity was little changed in March and continues to grow in April.

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Primer: A Deposit’s Life

Published on April 10, 2023 by Free

This post illustrates how banks deposits can be created, transformed, and destroyed. Banks deposits are the numbers in one’s bank account and the most common form of money. They are just digits in a bank’s database that are created when a bank makes a loan or buys an asset, and erased when a loan is repaid or when a bank sells an asset. They can also be transformed into other bank liability types when a

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Published on March 27, 2023 by Free

All bank failures can be quickly papered over, except those that involve foreign currency. The authorities are well equipped to deal with domestic currency bank failures, where even the failure of a GSIB can be resolved and forgotten in a week. But the authorities cannot print foreign currency, and there are several trillion in uninsured dollar deposits abroad. A loss of confidence in regional U.S. banks raised the awareness of bank credit risk, and led

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Hidden to Market

Published on March 13, 2023 by Free

There is little risk of a crisis in the banking sector, but that does not mean there aren’t badly run banks. QE and Basel III have made the banking sector significantly more liquid and resilient such that a replay of the GFC is very unlikely. However, individual banks under poor management can still be subject to bank runs. At a high level, a bank has short-dated liabilities and longer dated assets. A well managed bank

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Hiking at $60b a Month

Published on February 13, 2023 by Free

QT is incrementally improving the transmission of monetary policy by increasing the share of financial assets sensitive to the Fed’s policy rate. Although the policy rate is approaching 5%, trillions of bank deposits continue to offer around 0%. QT strengthens the transmission of policy by mechanically replacing bank deposits with policy rate sensitive Treasuries, and by forcing banks to compete more aggressively for deposit funding. Both outcomes raise the interest rate on assets held by

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Come Hell or High Water

Published on January 23, 2023 by Free

Governor Waller suggests two significant changes to the Fed’s QT framework that effectively removes all obstacles to an extended QT. First, Waller suggests that the $2t in RRP balances should be consolidated with bank reserves when thinking of bank liquidity levels. This indicates that the Fed would be comfortable with bank reserve levels dropping below the roughly estimated $2.5t minimum level. Second, Waller appears to be open to maintaining QT even if policy rates are

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Credit Boom

Published on January 9, 2023 by Free

A tremendous credit boom took place in 2022 and it may not even be over. The combination of healthy banks, financially strong households, and attractive rates appears to have to led to a surge in bank lending. Banks and credit unions together created $1.5t in cash last year that likely has not yet fully filtered into economic activity. Recall, bank lending creates money out of thin air. Interestingly, higher interest rates have so far only

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Trapped Liquidity

Published on December 19, 2022 by Free

A change in the underlying plumbing of the financial system is making it unlikely that QT can run its expected 2+ year course. An ideal QT would drain liquidity in the overall financial system while keeping liquidity in the banking sector above a minimum threshold. That is only possible if the bulk of the liquidity drained is sourced from the $2t RRP, which holds funds owned by money market funds. MMFs could facilitate QT by

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