Huge market volatilty and increased trading volumes as the coronavirus hit the US and Europe in March led to a massive backlog of failed trades which then had to be cleared up, the Financial Times reported Monday.
The FT said that Sifma, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, led a two-weekend clear up where 270 staff from 50 institutions worked to ensure that all the trades that had initially failed were completed.
A number of trading halts took place due to market distress in March and one executive at a large bank said this added pressure to banks’ already stretched liquidity.
Simfa used a blue-print it model led for a potential flu pandemic in 2007, which was used the first time in real-life in March and April.
Markets were extremely volatile in March and April as the impact of coronavirus flooded equity markets.
Trading halts were issued a number of times, including on March 18 when fears surfaced that increased stimulus measures from the White House and additional emergency actions by the Federal Reserve would be insufficient to offset the fallout from coronavirus.
An emergency interest rate cut carried out by the Fed in March also proved to be insufficient in soothing markets and investors’ nerves.
A senior executive at another large bank told the FT that the emergency cut added pressure to banks’ already stretched liquidity.
This coincided with clients also withdrawing large amounts of funding from revolving credit facilities
Banks may have been left with risks they had not anticipated, making it even more difficult to complete trades had the backlog not been cleared.
Tom Price, managing director of technology and operations at Sifma told the FT: “We were hearing from members about a substantial amount of backlog of trades. It was driven by the excess of trading volumes. At the peak there was three times the daily volume.”
Sifma used the blueprint it had modelled for a potential flu pandemic in 2007. But the sessions in March and April were the first time the plans had been used
After many hours, operational staff were able to determine what each bank owed one another, and settle up, the FT reported