Off The Wire
Banks borrow only token amounts via Fed's dollar swap facility
FRANKFURT, March 20 (Reuters) - Global banks borrowed only token amounts on Monday via an enhanced, seven-day dollar swap unveiled by the U.S. Federal Reserve late on Sunday to ease funding stress in global markets.
Faced with the risk of a fast-moving loss of confidence in the stability of the financial system, the Fed said it would offer daily currency swaps to ensure banks in Canada, Britain, Japan, Switzerland and the euro zone would have the dollars needed to operate.
Two banks in Switzerland borrowed $101 million on Monday while in the euro zone, a single bank borrowed $5 million. In Japan and Britain, the take-up was zero.
Such swap facilities have been a constant feature of global central bank cooperation for years but demand for funds outside acute crisis periods has been negligible.
While the recent volatility in bank shares risked morphing into a broader crisis, central bank swap lines have barely been utilised, with the take up well below $1 billion now, compared to $446 billion at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and a peak of $583 billion in the finance crisis of 2008.
Banks on aggregate have had ample liquidity for years, and many suffer from sitting on too much cash rather than too little.