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As Fed Pumps $3 Trillion into Repo Market, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Practice Borrowing from the Fed’s Discount Window

Courtesy of Pam Martens

James Gorman (left) Chairman and CEO, Morgan Stanley; David Solomon (right) Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

James Gorman (left) Chairman and CEO, Morgan Stanley; David Solomon (right) Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

Last week, Jim Grant, the Editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, was interviewed by CNBC’s Rick Santelli. Grant said that since September 17, the Fed has pumped “upwards of $3 trillion” in repo loans to Wall Street. Santelli asked if the Fed had effectively nationalized the repo market. Grant said “there is no more price discovery and we are dealing with administered rates.”

For the first time since the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has been pumping out hundreds of billions of dollars each week to trading houses on Wall Street in order to provide liquidity to the repo (repurchase agreement) market where financial institutions make collateralized, overnight loans to each other. Liquidity had dried up in this market to the point that on September 17 overnight lending rates spiked from the typical 2 percent to 10 percent. The Fed then turned on its money spigot and brought the rate back down. But even after the rate went back down, the New York Fed has continued making these massive loans, raising fears on Wall Street about what is really going on behind the scenes.

Thus far, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has tried to peddle the narrative that the Fed is just making “technical” adjustments through its open market operations rather than launching another massive bailout program to Wall Street. Congress has failed to conduct one hearing on the serious matter, even as the program has grown. Just last Thursday the Fed announced that in addition to its daily offering of $120 billion in overnight loans and twice-weekly offering of $35 billion in 14-day loans, it will be adding three more term loans over the next month, totaling $55 billion in 28-day and 42-day term loans.

There is some evidence residing quietly on the Federal Reserve’s web site that it has been planning for the next Wall Street crisis since at least August 11, 2011. That’s when Morgan Stanley Bank NA shows up as a borrower at the Discount Window of the New York Fed, receiving a $1 million overnight loan at the rate of 0.75 percent against pledged collateral of $13.6 billion. These practice runs by Morgan Stanley at the New York Fed’s Discount Window have continued since that time. The Fed makes its Discount Window disclosures on a two-year lag time. According to its most recent data for the third quarter of 2017, Morgan Stanley Bank NA received a $500,000 overnight loan from the Discount Window on September 13, 2017 at an interest rate of 1.75 percent against pledged collateral of $10.7 billion.

Morgan Stanley Bank NA is the federally-insured bank of Morgan Stanley, a sprawling Wall Street investment bank that received more than $2 trillion in secret revolving loans from the Fed during the last financial crisis. (See chart from federal agency audit below.) On September 29, 2008, the day that the House of Representatives initially rejected the proposed TARP taxpayer bailout plan (which would eventually, and publicly, inject $10 billion into Morgan Stanley) it secretly received $61.28 billion from the Fed’s Primary Dealer Credit Facility.


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