Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bernanke: Some Signs Credit Markets are Improving

by Bill McBride on 11/18/2008 09:31:00 AM

From Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's Testimony to Congress: Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Federal Reserve's liquidity facilities

There are some signs that credit markets, while still quite strained, are improving. Interbank short-term funding rates have fallen notably since mid-October, and we are seeing greater stability in money market mutual funds and in the commercial paper market. Interest rates on higher-rated bonds issued by corporations and municipalities have fallen somewhat, and bond issuance for these entities rose a bit in recent weeks. The ongoing capital injections under the TARP are continuing to bring stability to the banking system and have reduced some of the pressure on banks to deleverage, two critical first steps toward restarting flows of new credit. However, overall, credit conditions are still far from normal, with risk spreads remaining very elevated and banks reporting that they continued to tighten lending standards through October. There has been little or no bond issuance by lower-rated corporations or securitization of consumer loans in recent weeks.