Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Federal Reserve’s Term Auction Facility

As the credit crisis unfolded, the Fed prepared to auction funds to banks. Among other design features (such as how expressive a bidding language to allow) they thought about adverse selection: they wanted to reduce the signal value "stigma" of participation.

The Federal Reserve’s Term Auction Facility
July 2008 Volume 14, Number 5
Authors: Olivier Armantier, Sandra Krieger, and James McAndrews

Abstract: "As liquidity conditions in the term funding markets grew increasingly strained in late 2007, the Federal Reserve began making funds available directly to banks through a new tool, the Term Auction Facility (TAF). The TAF provides term funding on a collateralized basis, at interest rates and amounts set by auction. The facility is designed to improve liquidity by making it easier for sound institutions to borrow when the markets are not operating efficiently."

Auction Design: "Once the Federal Reserve concluded that an auction format was an effective funding alternative, it added features aimed at ensuring the most efficient distribution of funds to banks with a high demand. In particular, the Fed established a minimum rate at which bids could be submitted that was set in a comparable, competitive market (rather than a penalty rate, which is set at a premium to existing market rates).This market-based minimum bid rate was likely to encourage participation and reduce any stigma associated with receiving auctioned funds, since banks would not necessarily signal an abnormally high demand by bidding. The Federal Reserve also chose a uniform-price (or single-price) auction rather than a discriminatory (pay-your-bid) auction in part to spur participation further. By using the uniform-price structure common in Treasury auctions, the Fed reasoned that banks would be more comfortable with bidding. Finally, to allow for the widest allocation of funds, the central bank imposed a cap on the bid amount corresponding to 10 percent of the auction size.
The Fed also imposed two important rules. First, based on its experience with option auctions in 1999, it would allow each bidder to make two rate-amount offers. This rule represents the Fed’s resolution of the trade-off associated with multiple rate-amount offers: as the number of offers increases, the auction becomes more complex, but participants are able to make bids that are more representative of their demand. Second, the central bank would require TAF participants to pledge collateral beyond the amount necessary to secure credit in the new facility. This rule was imposed to ensure that bidders in the new facility could still borrow through the discount window’s primary credit facility to meet unexpected overnight funding needs."

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