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The Federal Reserve is telling us there’s something wrong with hedge funds

Wall St Journal (Paywall)

One potential solution is to lend cash directly to smaller banks, securities dealers and hedge funds through the repo market’s clearinghouse, the Fixed Income Clearing Corp., or FICC.

Hedge funds currently borrow through a process called sponsored repo, in which they ask a large bank to act as a middleman, pairing their government bonds with money-market funds willing to lend cash. The bank then guarantees that the parties will fulfill their obligations—repaying the cash or returning the securities. Firms trading through the FICC contribute to a fund that would cover a borrower’s default. Critics of the new plan say if the Fed lends cash directly through the clearinghouse, it could end up contributing to a hedge-fund bailout.

The Fed’s aim, according to analysts, is to step back from temporary efforts to quell repo-market volatility and increase financial reserves. After September’s volatility, officials succeeded in suppressing year-end swings with temporary measures, such as offering short-term repo loans and buying Treasury bills.

With the Fed acting as a backstop to hedge funds, is this admitting failure in the repo market with repo operations? Maybe failure is a strong word. Let’s say that repo operations have been less effective at diffusing money market issues than they Fed anticipated?

Did the Fed believe these funding issues would go away after year-end, only to discover these issues aren’t going anywhere anytime soon?

This is an interesting development that I post about more in the days to come.

Update: Follow-up post here – What is ACTUALLY going on in the repo market?

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Author: Trader Court

CPA first, pivoted to python programmer focused on data science which I apply to my own stock and options trading.

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