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Repurchase Agreement (Repo)


A repurchase agreement, commonly known as a ‘Repo’ , is a form of short-term borrowing primarily used in money markets. In this agreement, a dealer sells securities to investors, usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day. For the party selling the security and agreeing to repurchase it in the future, it is a repo; for the party on the other end of the transaction, buying the security and agreeing to sell in the future, it is a reverse repurchase agreement.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Repurchase Agreement (Repo)” is:Repurchase – /riːˈpəːtʃəs/Agreement – /əˈɡriːmənt/Repo – /ˈrēpō/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Function: A Repurchase Agreement (Repo) is a form of short-term borrowing mainly in government securities, commonly used by traders, banks, or institutional investors. The investor sells the securities to lenders and agrees to repurchase them at a specified date and price.
  2. Types of Repurchase Agreements: There are three types of repos – overnight (agreement for one day only), term (fixed period of time), and open (no set maturity date).
  3. Importance: Repos provide liquidity and manage risk in the financial markets. They also play a vital role in the Federal Reserve’s monetary operations, facilitating regulation of money supply in the economy.

“`Please note that the party selling the security is effectively taking out a secured loan with the understanding of buying them back in the future.


A Repurchase Agreement (Repo) is a vital instrument in the finance industry which essentially works as a short-term borrowing for dealers in government securities. The dealer sells the government securities to investors, usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day. It’s important in managing liquidity, enhancing market efficiency and determining the short term interest rates. Repos provide a low-cost source of borrowing for dealers in government securities and they are a critical component of the monetary policy implementation process, allowing central banks to regulate the money supply quickly and efficiently. Also, they are important in maintaining the safe and efficient functioning of the government securities market ensuring stability and fluidity in markets for short term funds.


A repurchase agreement, commonly referred to as a ‘repo’ , is a financial instrument used extensively in money markets. At its core, it serves the purpose of short-term borrowing and lending, most commonly involving government securities. By agreeing to buy these securities and sell them back after a specified time, entities can acquire immediate liquidity, and it is often turned to by banks, financial institutions, or any entity in need of quick cash.Repo primarily serves the function of government collateralized lending, helping central banks implement monetary policy and manage banking liquidity by increasing or decreasing available resources. From the borrower’s perspective, repos provide a reliable way to secure short-term loans using securities as collateral, aiding in their immediate cash requirements. From the lender’s perspective, these agreements are much safer options as they’re provided collateral and can sell these securities in the event of default. Thus, repos play a critical role as a safety valve in financial market operations, helping regulate liquidity and mitigating temporary imbalances.


1. Central Bank Operations: The U.S. Federal Reserve uses repurchase agreements as a significant part of its daily operations and monetary policy. When the Federal Reserve conducts a repo, it buys Treasury bonds from banks, providing them with liquidity. The banks then agree to repurchase those bonds at a later date for a higher price. 2. Securities Brokerage Firms: Large securities brokerage firms like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs regularly participate in repo agreements. They borrow funds from money market funds and other cash-rich firms — such as insurance institutions — and secure the loans with securities as collateral. The brokerages return the cash with interest and, in return, receive their collateral back at an arranged future date. 3. Financial Crisis of 2008: Repurchase agreements heavily contributed to the financial crisis of 2008. Investment bank Lehman Brothers used repos as an accounting trick, categorizing them as sales instead of loans to hide its financial difficulties. This action inflated the balance sheet and increased the risk when it was time for the bank to repurchase those agreements. With a lack of capability to meet its obligation, Lehman Brothers eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Repurchase Agreement or Repo?

A Repurchase Agreement (Repo) is a form of short-term borrowing mainly in government securities. A dealer sells securities to investors, with an agreement to buy them back at a higher price.

How does a Repurchase Agreement (Repo) work?

In simple terms, a repo transaction is essentially a loan, where the lender gives money to the borrower in exchange for securities, with an agreement that the borrower will buy those securities back later at a slightly higher price.

What is the duration of a Repurchase Agreement or Repo?

It can vary greatly, from overnight to 30 days or more; however, most such agreements are short-term, from one day to a few weeks.

Are Repurchase Agreements considered safe?

While repos come with their own set of risks, they are generally considered safe because the agreement involves a collateral, which is often a government-issued security. In case the counterparty defaults, the collateral may be sold to compensate for the losses.

What is a Reverse Repurchase Agreement (Reverse Repo)?

A Reverse Repurchase Agreement (Reverse Repo) is just the opposite of a Repo. Here, the dealer buys the securities with the intention to sell them back at a later date.

Who uses the Repo Market?

The Repo market is widely used by central banks, financial institutions, hedge funds, and other large corporations to manage their short-term funding needs and also to invest surplus cash.

How is the Repo Rate determined?

The Repo Rate is largely dictated by market demand and supply and the quality of the collateral. A lower repo rate suggests a low risk and high liquidity.

Why are Repurchase Agreements significant for the economy?

Repurchase Agreements allow for short-term capital flows, helping financial institutions manage their liquidity and ensuring that the financial system as a whole has access to short-term financing. This is vital for the overall stability of the economy.

What is the impact of Repo on the money supply?

When the central bank conducts Repo transactions, it has a direct impact on the money supply in the economy. When the central bank buys securities, it injects money into the system, expanding the money supply. Conversely, selling securities reduces the money supply.

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