Repurchase agreements (also known as repos) are conducted only with primary dealers; reverse repurchase agreements (also known as reverse repos) are conducted with both primary dealers and with an expanded set of reverse repo counterparties that includes banks, government-sponsored enterprises, and money market funds.
Repo and reverse repo operations were used prior to the financial crisis to adjust the supply of reserve balances and keep the federal funds rate around the target level established by the FOMC. At that time, repo operations were typically conducted daily to fine-tune the supply of reserves in the system.
In a repo transaction, the Desk purchases Treasury, agency debt, or agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from a counterparty subject to an agreement to resell the securities at a later date. It is economically similar to a loan collateralized by securities having a value higher than the loan to protect the Desk against market and credit risk. Repo transactions temporarily increase the quantity of reserve balances in the banking system.
In a reverse repo transaction, the opposite occurs: the Desk sells securities to a counterparty subject to an agreement to repurchase the securities at a later date at a higher repurchase price. Reverse repo transactions temporarily reduce the quantity of reserve balances in the banking system.