What Is a REPO (Repurchase Agreement)?

What Is a REPO (Repurchase Agreement)?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

A repurchase agreement, also known as a REPO, is a form of short-term borrowing for dealers in government securities. Essentially, the dealer sells the government securities to investors, usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day.

For the party selling the securities, it’s a repo; for the party buying back the securities, it’s a reverse repurchase agreement. These deals, which are essentially loans with securities as collateral, are most commonly used by large institutional investors as a method of funding their operations.

Related Questions

1. What is the role of a repurchase agreement in the financial market?

Repurchase agreements play a critical role in the financial market by adding liquidity. Firms and institutions with excess funds can lend to those in need of short-term cash through secured loans, reducing the risk associated with lending.

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2. Are repurchase agreements safe?

While repos are generally considered safe due to the collateral put down, they’re not entirely risk-free. The potential issues involve the drop in the collateral’s security value or the counterparty’s inability to repurchase the securities, leading to losses. Thus, the safety of repurchase agreements relies largely on the credibility of the parties involved and the security’s value.

3. Does a repurchase agreement involve interest?

Yes, the difference between the original sale price and the repurchase price in a repo represents the interest on the loan. The rate of this interest is called the repo rate and can fluctuate based on market conditions.

4. How is the repo rate determined?

The repo rate is determined by several factors, including the quality of the collateral, the creditworthiness of the parties involved, and the duration of the agreement. It is typically lower than unsecured borrowing rates due to the collateral’s presence.

5. What happens in a reverse repurchase agreement?

In a reverse repurchase agreement, also known as a reverse repo, the roles are reversed. The lender buys the securities with an agreement to sell them back at a higher price on a specific date. Hence, it works oppositely from a regular repo but fulfills the same purpose – short-term funding.