On the pervasive effects of Federal Reserve settlement regulations
To manage their reserve positions, depository institutions in the United States actively buy and sell deposits at the Federal Reserve Banks via the federal funds market. Beginning in 1991, the Eurodollar market also became an attractive venue for trading deposits at the Federal Reserve Banks. Prior to 1991, the Federal Reserve’s statutory reserve requirement on Eurocurrency liabilities of U.S. banking offices discouraged use of Eurocurrency liabilities as a vehicle for trading deposits at the Federal Reserve. This impediment was removed in December 1990. Beginning in January 1991, the overnight instruments in the federal funds market and in the Eurodollar markets, except for minor differences in risk, became similar vehicles for exchanging deposits at Federal Reserve Banks. Because the risk characteristics of the instruments differ, the law of one price need not hold precisely across the two markets. Yet, the authors hypothesize that, beginning in 1991, the two trading instruments became close enough substitutes that price pressures in one market began to show through to the other. Herein, the authors examine overnight LIBOR for U.S. bank settlement effects. During the period when the federal funds market and Eurodollar markets are similar venues for trading deposits at Federal Reserve Banks, they find strong settlement effects in overnight LIBOR. However, during the period when Eurocurrency liabilities carry a reserve tax, they find no evidence of a settlement effect in overnight LIBOR. Their results suggest that (i) the microstructure of the federal funds market spills over into the markets for substitute assets and (ii) Federal Reserve rules have implications beyond U.S. borders.
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