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Photo: Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images

The U.S. stock market may be running low on liquidity, experts say, and that could very well weigh down prices and lead to further selling.

Why it matters: The dysfunction over the past few weeks in the repo market, which is where large financial institutions sell assets like Treasuries when they need quick cash, may have been the first signal of a wide-ranging liquidity shortage.

  • That shortage could be poised to deliver a larger shock to the broader financial system, with Wednesday's stock market selloff being the latest (and most prominent) example of a liquidity event.

What they're saying: "Over the past year we have seen liquidity risks bubbling up," Bank of America Merrill Lynch equity and quant strategist Savita Subramanian said in a note to clients.

  • "When the wall of worry turns to panic selling, we worry about an unlikely area of liquidity risk: the S&P 500."

The nagging issues in the repo market are "just a symptom of a larger macro problem," Yves Lamoureux, president of macroeconomic research firm Lamoureux & Co., told Axios.

  • "The economy requires much more credit and the Fed has gone too far in its tightening of the balance sheet."
  • "Liquidity is the blood needed to hold up the stock market. The simple fact that indices are dropping like rocks is a testament to its lack thereof."

Watch this space: The rapidly rising popularity of passive investing, converging stock ownership, and increasing fund flows from pension funds and large money managers into private equity is drying out typical sources of liquidity to the stock market and could mean major outflows in the face of bad news, Subramanian adds.

  • "Liquidity rarely matters, but when it does, it's all that matters."

Go deeper: The ultra-liquid ultra-rich

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

8 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.