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Has the Fed really started tapering?

Liquidity is getting tighter. The decline in Fed repos is simply a reflection of their increased cost. Therefore, we will know when things are really getting bad if repo volumes start to pick up. Finally, if the market expected to get a flush of liquidity towards month end from TGA, this is now less likely to happen.

  • First drop in overall Fed’s balance sheet since 02/26. And it is a rather large drop, $74Bn.
  • Third week in a row of declines in bank deposits. Level now is the same as 04/15. The 4-week rolling growth rate is now the lowest since the Fed’s U-turn last September.
  • TGA continues to climb to record highs despite some disbursements towards Fed’s SPVs as new programs get triggered. It is likely that the level of TGA depends on the amount of SBA loans drawn/forgiven and such TGA can stay above $800Bn, Treasury’s target, for some time.
  • CB swap lines decline by $92Bn – first large decline as some of them have matured and no additional USD funding required.
  • Net repos outstanding continue to decline – this has been a feature all of this week as both O/N and term repos have been 0 for USTs. Reason for that is Fed raised the minimum bid on O/N to IOER +5bps and on term to IOER +10bps. This was a surprise, not that it happened (Fed probably made that decision at its April FOMC already), but that it happened ahead of tax receipts day. Commercial banks now must step in to fill in the gap but with their deposits on decline, their flexibility is diminished.
  • Fed bought $83Bn of mortgages – that’s perhaps to compensate for net selling in the previous 3 weeks.

Extra liquidity is getting withdrawn. That’s it. Market is not in distress yet. For that, we will know it when Fed repo volumes start picking up again and O/N rates shoot up. But for sure, on the margin, there is less liquidity to go around. Markets are not reflecting this yet. Perhaps, waiting for a sign, that all this surplus liquidity has been withdrawn, to react.