...We don't know who bought the Freddie notes today. But buyers of Freddie notes who have access to borrowing from the Federal Reserve would have found the decision to bid relatively easy. That's because the ability to exchange the Freddie debt for Fed cash means banks can buy Freddie debt with a huge amount of leverage, dramatically increasing the return on their capital.
Here's how it works. A bank that bought the six month notes from Freddie this morning could also bid to borrow from the Fed's Term Facility, which held an $75 billion auction today. As collateral for the borrowing, the bank could offer the newly purchased Freddie notes, for which the Fed would give them credit for 97% of their market value. Recently, the TAF pricing topped out at 2.35 percent for 28-day borrowing. So a bank buying $100 million of Freddie paper yielding 2.858% could flip it to the Fed, borrowing $97 million at around 2.4% (assuming the pricing will be slightly higher this time around).At the end of the day, a credit desk could buy $100 million of Freddie debt for just $3 million down. On that $3 million, the desk would receive a 16.6% annualized return, or 8.2% over six months, for paper that is explicitly backed by the Treasury Department. Not a bad deal at all.