A report published this week by the Dallas Fed concludes that the Federal Reserve’s Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility (TALF) played a key role in bolstering commercial real estate finance during the pandemic. The Federal Reserve added outstanding CMBS as eligible collateral for lending through the TALF in 2020 after urgent requests from business coalitions that included The Real Estate Roundtable. (Roundtable Weekly, April 17, 2020 and Joint Trades letter, March 24, 2020)
TALF & CRE
- The report by three authors with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ Research Department states the value of CRE assets at the onset of the pandemic in Feb. 2020 – particularly office towers, retail centers and hotels – suddenly became uncertain. The TALF’s subsequent support of asset-backed securities successfully anchored CMBS prices and helped to steady CRE finance during a tumultuous economic environment.
- The TALF, previously used during the 2008 financial crisis, was relaunched by the Fed on March 23, 2020 in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
- A business coalition that included The Roundtable on March 24, 2020 urged the Federal Reserve, Treasury, and Federal Housing Finance Agency to immediately expand the TALF to include non-agency CMBS – including legacy private-label conduit and single-asset single borrower (SASB) assets. The coalition stated the inclusion of private-label assets would stabilize asset prices and shore up the balance sheets of market participants. (Joint Industry letter)
- On April 9, the Federal Reserve announced the range of TALF-eligible collateral would expand to include triple-A rated tranches of both outstanding (legacy) CMBS, commercial mortgage loans and newly issued collateralized loan obligations. However, the updated term sheet excluded single-asset single borrower (SASB) CMBS and commercial real estate collateralized loan obligations (CRE CLOs). (Federal Reserve news release and Term Sheet)
- Six real estate industry organizations, including The Roundtable, wrote again to federal regulators on April 14, 2020 about the urgent need to include a wider range of investment grade commercial real estate debt instruments in the Fed’s TALF.
- The 2020 letter stated, “Commercial and multifamily real estate assets that were perfectly healthy just weeks ago now face massive stress and a wave of payment and covenant defaults.”
- The Fed on May 12, 2020 broadened the range of leveraged loans that could be used as collateral for the TALF to include new Triple-A rated collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) with leveraged loans. (Fed news release and Term Sheet)
- A recent Federal Reserve paper entitled “Crisis Liquidity Facilities with Nonbank Counterparties: Lessons from the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility” explores the constructive role of the TALF in depth.
- The TALF and other emergency lending facilities were closed in late 2020 as part of a multi-trillion “omnibus” bill providing pandemic relief and government operations funding – but the Fed can re-start TALF if emergency economic conditions arise again in the future. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 22, 2020)
The report published this week concludes the TALF proved especially important in supporting commercial real estate finance. “The TALF program structure provided needed liquidity to investors at the height of the pandemic, but it incentivized borrowers to exit as normal market conditions returned, allowing the program to quickly unwind,” the article states.
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