On Heels of Bear Stearns' Swan Song, Fed Moves for More Liquidity
In a rare Sunday evening move, the Federal Reserve authorized more financing for the troubled securitization markets and lowered a key lending rate before the market opened Monday morning. In a brief statement, the Fed said it had authorized the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to "create a lending facility to improve the ability of primary dealers to provide financing to participants in securitization markets." The additional funding window will be open for six months, will lend at the primary credit rate, and could be extended; the Fed said loans via this facility "may be collateralized by a broad range of investment-grade debt securities." In a related and equally rare intra-meeting cut, the Fed also dropped the discount rate 25 basis points to 3.25 percent. The moves by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke come in the wake of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s assumption of Bear Stearns for just $2 per share, after the fifth largest investment bank fell victim to a credit crunch that has claimed hundreds of smaller mortgage lenders. Sources have suggested to Housing Wire that industry speculation now sits with Lehman Brothers, who is rumored to face similar exposure. Shares in Lehman had fallen nearly 30 percent to $28.00 when this story was published. Disclosure: The author owned no positions in any publicly-traded firms mentioned in this story when it was originally published. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.