Central banks ease terms on currency swaps


Stocks surged today as the announcement settled in that six central banks are joining forces to ease terms of currency liquidity swaps. As we have reported earlier here and here, the European Central Bank has recently been increasing its borrowing under the emergency swap facility, which is similar to that set up during the 2008 financial crisis, when lending at one point peaked at $586 billion.

While the Federal Reserve reports the totals that flow through this facility weekly here, it does not provide information on which banks in turn receive loans from other central banks. The European Central Bank also does not make information public on which banks are receiving the dollars it obtains from the Fed.

The Fed and the banking industry have long opposed making data public about emergency lending from central banks. It took a lawsuit and and act of Congress to compel the Fed to release details of emergency lending during the 2008 financial crisis. Bloomberg News reported this week how big banks likely earned $13 billion in income from such programs thanks to low interest rates. But this data does not show which foreign banks benefited from currency swaps.

Below is a chart showing how the European Central Bank and other central banks–the Bank of Japan recently took a loan–are borrowing on the facility. Given today's announcement, these numbers should rise in coming weeks.

Federal Reserve Central Bank Liquidity Swaps (in billions)

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Sources: U.S. Federal Reserve Board