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The Federal Home Loan Bank System: the lender of next-to-last resort?

  • Adam B. Ashcraft
  • Morten L. Bech
  • W. Scott Frame

The Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) System is a large, complex, and understudied government-sponsored liquidity facility that currently has more than $1 trillion in secured loans outstanding, mostly to commercial banks and thrifts. This paper first documents the significant role played by the FHLB System at the outset of the ongoing financial crisis and then provides evidence about the uses of these funds by their bank and thrift members. We then identify the trade-offs faced by FHLB member-borrowers when choosing between accessing the FHLB System or the Federal Reserve's discount window during the crisis. We conclude by describing the fragmented U.S. lender-of-last-resort framework and finding that additional clarity about the respective roles of the various liquidity facilities would be helpful.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series FRB Atlanta Working Paper with number 2009-04.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2009-04
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  1. W. Scott Frame & Diana Hancock & Wayne Passmore, 2007. "Federal Home Loan Bank advances and commercial bank portfolio composition," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2007-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  2. Olivier Armantier & Sandra C. Krieger & James J. McAndrews, 2008. "The Federal Reserve's Term Auction Facility," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 14(Jul).
  3. John B. Taylor & John C. Williams, 2009. "A black swan in the money market," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jan.
  4. Stojanovic, Dusan & Vaughan, Mark D. & Yeager, Timothy J., 2008. "Do Federal Home Loan Bank membership and advances increase bank risk-taking?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 680-698, May.
  5. Mark J. Flannery & W. Scott Frame, 2006. "The Federal Home Loan Bank system : the "other" housing GSE," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 3, pages 33-54.
  6. Ambrose, Brent W & Warga, Arthur, 2002. "Measuring Potential GSE Funding Advantages," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2-3), pages 129-50, Sept.-Dec.
  7. Wayne Passmore & Shane M. Sherlund & Gillian Burgess, 2005. "The Effect of Housing Government-Sponsored Enterprises on Mortgage Rates," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 33(3), pages 427-463, 09.
  8. James J. McAndrews & Asani Sarkar & Zhenyu Wang, 2008. "The effect of the Term Auction Facility on the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate," Staff Reports 335, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  9. Nothaft, Frank E & Pearce, James E & Stevanovic, Stevan, 2002. "Debt Spreads between GSEs and Other Corporations," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2-3), pages 151-72, Sept.-Dec.
  10. Philip E. Strahan & Evan Gatev & Til Schuermann, 2004. "How do Banks Manage Liquidity Risk? Evidence from Equity and Deposit Markets in the Fall of 1998," NBER Working Papers 10982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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