- These Are The Banks Where The Fed’s $1.4 Trillion In Reserves Are Parked
by Tyler Durden, https://www.zerohedge.com/
Over the past few days there has been much confusion over the repocalpyse that shook the overnight funding market, and just as much confusion over the definition of reserves which some banks were unwilling to part with, other banks were desperate for, and in the end both Powell and the former head of the NY Fed’s markets desk admitted that Quantitative Tightening had been taken too far, and the total amount of reserves in the system was too low and will be increased (welcome back QE).
Yet while the book has yet to be written on the causes for last week’s shocking move higher in repo rates, which sent general collateral as high as 10%, a record print in a time of $1.4 trillion in excess reserves, we can shed some clarity on the definition of “reserves.” While there is a universe of semantic gymnastics when it comes to explaining what reserves are, the most basic definition is quite simply “cash”, however not cash in circulation but rather cash (and deposits) held in the bank’s account with the Federal Reserve (which the US central bank’s name comes from).
This means that there should be a de facto identity between the total amount of cash in the US banking system and the amount of total (minimum required plus excess) reserves. Sure enough, if only looks at the Fed’s weekly H.8 statement, which lists the “Assets and Liabilities of Commercial Banks in the United States“, and adds across the various banking cash aggregates in the US, what one gets is precisely the total amount of reserves.
This is seen in the chart below, which adds across the weekly cash for both small and large domestic commercial banks operating in the US (blue and red shaded areas) as well as foreign commercial banks (yellow shaded) operating in the US. The black line, meanwhile, shows the total amount of reserve balances with Federal Reserve Banks. By definition these two numbers have to be virtually identical, and sure enough, they are.
And once the NY Fed is done with this exercise, it may want to quickly found out the flip side of the equation: which banks were so desperate for liquidity last week they not only risked being seen using the Fed’s overnight repo operation, which in this day and age of $1.4 trillion in excess reserves carries the same stigma as using the Discount Window in the days before the Lehman failure, but did so by oversubscribing the Fed’s $75 billion repo facility for 3 days straight. In short, one or more banks are in dire need of just over $75 billion in liquidity, and the Fed better figure out who they are… before some financial reporter does, prints their name for the whole world to see and starts what may soon be the biggest bank run since the financial crisis.