U.S. central bankers took additional step to calm panicky markets after the spread of coronavirus triggered steep declines in prices on everything from stocks to bitcoin, as they pledged to inject some $1.5 trillion into the financial system.
The move by New York’s Federal Reserve Bank comes as investors rushed into traditional Wall Street markets to snap up the U.S. Treasury bonds, historically viewed in times of turmoil as a “safe haven” asset; The flight to safety pushed down the yield of the 10-year note, which moves from its price in the opposite direction, to historically low levels below 1 percent.
“These changes are being made to address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Fed said in a statement on its website.
The step follows announcements made by the Fed branch earlier in the week that it would increase the maximum amount of overnight loans granted to Wall Street bond dealers from $100 billion to $175 billion through “repo” markets, essentially short-term collateralized loans.
The pumping into the financial system of trillions of dollars of fresh liquidity recalled the unprecedented efforts of the Federal Reserve during the 2008 crisis and the years that followed to ply banks and markets with money in a bid to revive the economy following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.
The New York Fed said Thursday it would initiate the injections as soon as Thursday afternoon, starting with three-month repo loans worth $500 billion.
On Friday, the bank will offer additional repo operations, with three-month loans worth $500 billion and one-month loans worth $500 billion.
“Three-month and one-month repo operations for $500 billion will be offered on a weekly basis for the remainder of the monthly schedule,” according to the statement. “The Desk will continue to offer at least $175 billion in daily overnight repo operations and at least $45 billion in two-week term repo operations twice per week over this period.”