The Federal Reserve Board has established a dozen different lending facilities since the financial crisis began, each with its own acronym and big-dollar figures. Can you guess how much the federal government has sunk into the markets this year and how they´ve abbreviated it? Perhaps you should try, before scrolling down for the answers.
1. TAF -- Term Auction Facility: A credit resource that is available twice a month, with collateral requirements that are the same as those for the Fed´s discount window. Loans through the TAF range from 13 to 84 days. Total offered this year: $2.27 trillion.
2. RP -- repurchase transactions, or repos: 28-day term agreements with primary dealers using any kind of securities used as collateral "in conventional open market operations." Amount pledged: $100 billion.
3. TSLF -- Term Securities Lending Facility: Lends Treasury securities to primary dealers. Accepted collateral now includes private-label MBS. Amount pledged: $250 billion.
4. PDCF -- Primary Dealer Credit Facility: Lends directly to primary dealers. It´s the discount window for investment banks. Last week it totaled $55.6 billion.
5. AMLF - because ABCPMMMFLF is too long, but it stands for Asset Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility: Lends to financial institutions that then buy asset-backed commercial paper held by money market funds.
6. MMIFF -- Money Market Investor Funding Facility: Takes on unsecured assets held by money markets.
7. TALF -- Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility: Lends to holders of triple-A rated asset-backed securities backed by newly and recently originated consumer and small business loans. Program value: $200 billion
8. Foreign central bank swap lines (OK, there was no good abbreviation for this one, although I´m sure someone, somewhere is shortening "temporary reciprocal currency arrangements" to its logical TRCA): Offers dollars to other central banks-credit lines total at least $710 billion.
9. AIG -- American International Group: By now a regular lending facility, with one primary benefactor and collateral terms that are anyone´s guess. This program could actually count for more than one facility, since it has three different components, two of which, handily, come with their own acronyms. A CDO facility allows a new "bad bank" to buy some of AIG´s collateralized debt obligation slices, while an MBS facility lends money to a different "bad bank" to buy-well-MBS. Program value: $112.5 billion.
10. Interest on depository institutions´ reserve balances, both required and excess. Again, no easy acronym and no total value to speak of, but the rate starts out at the lowest federal funds target rate for the period minus 75 basis points-in other words, this program gets cheaper all the time.
11. CPFF -- Commercial Paper Funding Facility: Directly purchases three-month unsecured commercial paper from issuers.
12. Buying GSE debt and MBS (GSE means "government-sponsored enterprise," but we don´t have the Fed to thank for that one). Program value: $600 billion.
Stay tuned; there will probably be a new addition or two to this list before the year is out. Incomplete as the accounting here is, it does raise the question: Why is everyone so much more focused on the Treasury Department´s measly $700 billion?