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Fed buys $305M of ETFs at start of historic program

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The Federal Reserve bought $305 million of ETFs in the first two days of its historic intervention into U.S. corporate debt markets, according to data published Thursday.

The figures were revealed in the central bank’s weekly balance sheet update, which also showed that total assets rose to a record of $6.93 trillion in the week through May 13. The ETF purchases are part of the latest emergency lending program the Fed has rolled out to help cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. economy and financial markets.

First announced on March 23, the so-called Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility has been credited by investors and policymakers alike with having a major calming influence on markets, even well before it officially launched on Tuesday. Under the program, the Fed plans to make both outright purchases of corporate bonds as well as ETFs invested in the asset class, including potentially some sub-investment grade debt.

Even some of the industry’s cheapest products “may be overpriced” in that they’re “mirroring a passive index,” an expert says.
May 5

While the weekly balance sheet data did not disclose which ETFs the Fed bought, the central bank has said it will disclose the names of borrowers participating in the program at least once a month.

Bloomberg News