Federal Reserve Loans Climb to $354 Billion as Banks Scramble for Liquidity, Highest Since 2008

(iStock, JIM WATSON/Getty Images; BNN)
iStock, JIM WATSON/Getty Images; BNN

The Federal Reserve’s loan book continued to grow this week as banks took advantage of the central bank’s emergency lending facilities for the second consecutive week, according to data released Thursday.

The Fed’s loans climbed to $354.2 billion as of Wednesday, March 23rd. That’s an increase from the $318.2 billion of loans the Fed had out the prior Wednesday.

On average in the seven days that ended Wednesday, the Fed had $340.7 billion in loans, more than $315 billion higher than a year ago and $185 billion higher than last week’s average.

The record high for liquidity and credit facilities was $441.4 billion in October of 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis.

Loans made through the Fed’s primary credit facility—known as the “discount window—averaged $117 billion but ended the week at $110 billion. The average is $83 billion higher than a year ago and $80 billion higher than last week’s average. Borrowings in this window, however, actually declined compared with the prior Wednesday, when they stood at $152.9 billion.

Loans categorized as “other credit extensions” jumped to $179.8 billion on Wednesday and were on average close to that level. In the prior week, there were $142 billion outstanding loans in this category on Wednesday. This category includes loans that were extended to the new depository institutions—so-called “bridge banks”— established by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

Funds borrowed under the bank term lending facility, which was launched this month and allows banks to take one-year loans under favorable terms in exchange for high-quality securities, grew to $53.7 billion, up from $11.9 billion last Wednesday. Use of the program appears to be growing as the seven-day average was $34.6 billion, up from $32.1 billion in the prior seven days.

The figures suggest that bank funding remains highly stressed.


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