What Are Central Bank Swap Lines?

Swap lines are monetary policy tools that boost currency liquidity to help markets function.
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We had a question in webinar today about swap lines and though we could do a quick video on it so that everybody can have access to it in the Video Library for reference.

A swap line is basically just an agreement between two central banks to ensure enough liquidity is available to exchange their currencies with each other, these lines are especially useful in times of market stress where financial conditions create uncertainty central banks step in with swap lines to create better liquidity conditions and make sure that they don’t run out of a certain currency.

According to the Federal Reserve:

The swap lines are designed to improve liquidity conditions in dollar funding markets in the United States and abroad by providing foreign central banks with the capacity to deliver U.S. dollar funding to institutions in their jurisdictions during times of market stress. Likewise, the swap lines provide the Federal Reserve with the capacity to offer liquidity in foreign currencies to U.S. financial institutions should the Federal Reserve judge that such actions are appropriate.

You get two types of swap lines, the first one is a dollar swipe line, where the Fed provides Dollar to another central bank, and the second is a currency swap line, where central banks provide their currency to the FED.

The whole idea of these swap lines is to provide central banks around the world with enough liquidity, and usually during times of great economic uncertainty the biggest risk usually becomes demand for US Dollars.

As the world’s reserve currency, many countries use the Dollar as their local currency, and as the reserve currency the majority of the world’s FX reserves are held as Dollars, and of course commodities are mostly priced in Dollars and a large part of the world’s debt is dollar-denominated, so all of that means there are lots of US Dollars required around the world on any given day.

So, when trade suddenly dries up from global recessions or most recently due to worldwide lockdowns due to a pandemic, as the international trade dries up the Dollar flows dry up and that causes more and more demand for US Dollars which can see the Dollar appreciate excessively, as was the case if we take a look at the Dollar index in March 2020 as a quick example.

So, the idea for these swap lines is making sure there is ample Dollar liquidity in the system so try and stabilize markets but also keep the Dollar from appreciating too much.

So, hope that helps with swap lines, any other questions don’t hesitate to let us know.

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