WASHINGTON — One of the biggest questions that has hung over many of the Federal Reserve Board's liquidity facilities is what kind of haircuts the central bank levies on the collateral it accepts.
For at least one program, the Fed is now providing answers.
In a rare move, the central bank on Friday outlined the haircuts it is imposing on the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, a program announced in November in hopes of reviving consumer lending.
The steepest haircut is a 16% charge on certain auto loans that mature within four to five years. The smallest ones — 5% — will be taken on prime credit card loans with maturities of less than two years and loans backed by the Small Business Administration that will be repaid in less than five years.
Other loans posted as collateral, such as private and government-guaranteed student loans, subprime credit cards, and other auto loans, fall in the middle.
Talf, a $200 billion program announced in November, lends to holders of certain investment-grade asset-backed securities backed by new and recently originated consumer and small-business loans.
The Fed has repeatedly said the program will launch this month, though it has yet to provide a start date.
The Obama administration is reportedly considering an expansion of collateral the Fed would accept, but the changes the central bank announced Friday were relatively minor.
Mortgage-backed securities remain ineligible under Talf.
The Fed also made slight revisions to the scope of borrowers that can participate in the program.
Organizations that are controlled by the government are ineligible as are investment funds whose managers are based outside the United States.
(Control is defined as more than 25% of a company being owned by a foreign government.)
The issue of haircuts has been critical at the Fed since it agreed to take on $29 billion of assets from Bear Stearns Cos. last March after the investment firm collapsed. The Fed has refused to disclose the haircuts related to the deal or charges imposed on collateral accepted by other investment banks participating in the Primary Dealer Credit Facility.
The haircuts on other programs can be inferred from publicly available data.
For instance, the Fed lends 90 cents against each dollar of assets under the Money Market Investor Funding Facility, implying a 10% haircut.