(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell maintained his silence at a press briefing Wednesday over whether the regulator will agree to Wall Street banks’ request to extend a capital break that helped calm the Treasury market a year ago but is set to expire this month.
Powell declined to answer a reporter’s questions about moving the March 31 end date for the relaxed leverage limits -- a situation that’s added to anxiety among Treasury market participants hoping big banks won’t have to adjust their holdings. Since the start of Covid-19’s economic turmoil, lenders have been allowed to beef up their portfolios of Treasuries and reserves without having to maintain additional capital for the holdings.
“We’ll have something to announce on that in coming days,” Powell said at Wednesday’s press conference, declining to elaborate further.
Wall Street has lobbied hard to get an extension, saying the federal government’s ongoing stimulus efforts are still driving the need for banks to absorb their customers’ low-risk assets. Clients have run to banks with extra deposits, and the lobbyists argue the industry shouldn’t be punished for offering a safe harbor.
Treasury strategists also have said some of the recent volatility in the $21 trillion U.S. market could be tied to uncertainty over the Fed’s plan, with some expecting the market to react if the central bank declines to extend the relief.
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