September 22, 2022
Liquidity Adjustment Facility

Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF)

A liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) is a type of facility that provides central bank liquidity to markets during periods of stress by temporarily lending funds at preferential interest rates, and in return for such loans, receiving collateral. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve LA is called the Term Facility and was formerly used by banking institutions in times of stress. It has since been replaced with the Open Market Account (OMA), which does not lend money but instead “borrows” money from the central bank for term investments.

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At its heart, the LA is a loan facility, however it borrows (rather than lends) at interest rates below the Federal Funds rate. The borrower can pay back the loan plus a small premium in cash or with additional collateral or by drawing down on its own securities portfolio.

An important distinction to note is that the LA transaction between a bank and Reserve Bank is technically an unsecured lending agreement.

What Is a Liquidity Adjustment Facility?

A liquidity adjustment facility (LA) is a loan facility by a central bank that provides loans to commercial banks in order to improve market liquidity. The LA facility has a maturity of 28 days and the loan is renewed on the 15th day.

It is important to note that the Federal Reserve’s policy on lending through its LA became much more restrictive when originally started in 1978. The restrictions on collateralized loans were lifted in 2001.

The Federal Reserve’s liquidity facilities are designed to provide a partial substitute for channeled reserves, which were widely used before the interbank payments system evolved. The primary function of these facilities is to provide “liquidity” to the banking system by enabling banks to lend funds to other financial institutions at highly attractive interest rates. These interest rates cannot be used to fund any productive activity, except for certain exceptions in times of crisis.

Is LAF and repo same?

Repurchase agreement and liquidity adjustment facility are not the same. A repo is a collateralized loan with full repurchase on the due date. LAF can be a collateralized loan with full or partial repurchase obligation, or it can be a loan that requires additional collateral to support the outstanding balance.

What are the effects of LAF once market rates fall below the federal funds rate?

The Federal Reserve uses its open market operations to affect the federal funds market. If there is a continued decline of market rates in the federal funds market, the Federal Reserve will adjust its ISR at a faster pace so that repo rates reflect current market conditions.

Also the Fed continues to act as lender of last resort for banks and other financial institutions, providing them with emergency loans whenever conditions warrant.

What are the components of LAF?

  1. Primary Dealer Loans
  2. Secondary Dealer Loans 
  3. Reverse Repurchase Agreements 
  4. Cash Collateral to Support Banks’ Deposits

In addition to these components, there are also several other types of LAF, such as the money market account (MMA) and the unused funds facility (UF). The MMA allows a Federal Reserve Bank to hold open balances with commercial banks in order to provide liquidity in times of stress. The UF provides access to unlimited amounts of funds without requiring collateral for this facility.

What is the Federal Reserve policy on lending through its LA?

The Federal Reserve has adopted two basic policies on lending through LA. The first allows primary dealers to pledge eligible securities as collateral for loans up to 90% of the market value of the collateral, and offers full repurchase options. The second places limits on secondary loans and provides that these loans be supported by certain assets (either Treasury or agency securities) which must have an investment quality rating at least one grade higher than that of any supporting security used in a primary loan.

How does LAFF differ from TAF?

TLF and LTFO are not the same thing. The Treasury Cash Management Systems (TCMS) are better known as TAF. LAF is the domestic equivalent of TLF. 

LAF is a very short-term facility, designed to provide liquidity to financial markets during times of stress by providing banks with funds at interest rates below the Federal Reserve’s policy rate, which is the federal funds rate. It is also available to U.S.

Benefits Of LAF

  1. Provide a continuous source of liquidity to the financial system, which will prevent the cycle of panic and illiquidity that characterized financial markets in the Great Depression
  2. Suppress volatility and foster market stability, by acting as a source of liquidity when there are large institutionally-driven sell-offs in debt or equities markets.
  3. Provide competitive rates to institutions that use Federal Reserve Bank discount window loans, which lowers the average cost of funding for all borrowers, thereby fostering economic growth.
  4. Extend banking services to the under-served, such as corporate treasurers, pension funds, and money market mutual funds.
  5. Provide a source of short-term funding for certain large dollar transactions, such as securitizations.
  6. Provide U.S. government financing for the FED’s open market operations as well as for Treasury cash management operations, such as TAF and TLF.
  7. Reduce some of the inevitable rate volatility that results from highly liquid markets being thinly or non-existent due to an effective decrease in the supply of credit provided to the financial system by commercial banks at all income levels and across markets

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Crowding out is a situation in which expansionary fiscal policy can cause interest rates to increase dramatically and thus does not allow for new investment to occur at lower rates. This is due in part to the fact that when government borrows money, it tends to do so at or near the rate of interest that banks lend money at (Federal Funds Rate).

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