U.S. central bankers pledged Thursday to inject some $1.5 trillion into the financial system in an effort to calm panicky markets after the spreading coronavirus triggered steep price declines on everything from stocks to bitcoin.
The move by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York comes as investors in traditional Wall Street markets have rushed to snap up U.S. Treasury bonds, historically viewed as a “safe haven” asset in times of turmoil. The flight to safety has pushed down the 10-year note’s yield, which moves in the opposite direction from its price, 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 announcement follows announcements by the Fed branch earlier in the week that it would increase the maximum amount of overnight loans provided to Wall Street bond dealers through “repo” markets — essentially short-term collateralized loans — to $175 billion from $100 billion.
The pumping of trillions of dollars of fresh liquidity into the financial system recalled the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented efforts during the crisis of 2008 and the years afterward to ply banks and markets with money in a bid to revive the economy in the wake of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy.
The New York Fed said Thursday it would initiate the injections as soon as Thursday afternoon, beginning with $500 billion of three-month repo loans.
On Friday, the bank will offer additional repo operations with $500 billion of three-month loans and $500 billion of one-month loans.
“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.”
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