Learn why our treasurer wants to develop this financial federal program into something permanent.
Written by Connor Dudas & Gabe Agüero
Among the myriad fiscal repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, state and local governments suffered tremendous revenue declines, with taxable economic activity plummeting due to rampant unemployment and faltering consumption. In an effort to alleviate the impending liquidity calamity, the Federal Reserve instituted a temporary Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) initiative in which it purchased up to $500 billion of debt from state and local governments, primarily in the form of short-term municipal notes such as tax anticipation notes, revenue anticipation notes, and bond anticipation notes. Additionally, the Fed actively monitored liquidity and credit conditions in primary and secondary municipal security markets to determine the necessity of further action. The Fed received $35 billion in initial equity from the Treasury department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund, appropriated under the CARES Act. Through purchasing securitized municipal and state debt instruments, the Fed’s MLF enabled the continued functioning of state and local governments. However, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not reauthorize the extension of the program on November 19 and the program stopped purchasing notes on December 31.
Nonetheless, Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes and Treasury Secretary Shawn T. Wooden have commended the MLF initiative as a monetary policy template for future recessions. Particularly, Congressman Himes stated, “The Fed’s commitment to supporting the economy itself helped calm the markets. Within days of the Fed announcing programs to bolster the corporate municipal bond markets, investors returned, liquidity increased, and further disaster was likely avoided. Additionally, Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden testified before Congress regarding the Fed’s ability to better employ emergency lending powers during the pandemic, arguing that, “The creation of the MLF provided critical support for issuer solvency by standing ready to purchase short-term notes from state and local governments in an extremely uncertain economic environment, thereby helping state and local governments better manage client cash flow pressures.” Treasurer Wooden subsequently advocated continuing the MLF throughout the pandemic, describing it as a vital mechanism to stabilize municipal security markets, thereby bolstering investor retention and solvency. However, Treasurer Wooden has made it very clear that there is still development to be made on the facility, saying that "While the Municipal Liquidity Facility program helped mitigate liquidity concerns early on in the pandemic, we need to improve upon it to prepare for the next potential financial crisis."
Treasurer Wooden’s remarkable financial leadership has already been displayed through the development and implementation of his baby bonds initiative, but his testimony before congress, along with his new position as the President of the National Association of State Treasurers, proves that he is not only taking the necessary economic steps for Connecticut, but for the entire country.
Chiappino, Leah. “Connecticut Congressman, Treasurer Praise Federal Reserve Early Pandemic Response.” WSHU, www.wshu.org/post/connecticut-congressman-treasurer-praise-federal-reserve-early-pandemic-response#stream/0.
Kolakowski, Mark. “Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF).” Investopedia, Investopedia, 4 July 2021, www.investopedia.com/municipal-liquidity-facility-4802481.
“The Municipal Liquidity Facility: How It Works.” The Pew Charitable Trusts, www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2020/10/the-municipal-liquidity-facility-how-it-works.