The Commercial Paper (CP) market is essentially a private debt market used by corporations as a cheaper means of funding typical recurring operations than drawing on a line of bank credit.
Commercial paper, as financial instrument, is by no means a recent innovation and, in fact, you can read about how the CP market was affected by the many historic financial shocks experienced by the U.S. (read Panic on Wall Street: A History of America’s Financial Disasters)
Although the Federal Reserve was able to artificially bring CP rates down significantly since the shocking 615 basis point spread blowout (A2/P2 spread) of late 2008, they have apparently not been successful in preventing an overall contraction in the CP market.
The Federal Reserve calculates and published the total amount of CP outstanding every week and as of the latest published period, commercial paper outstanding is contracting at nearly the fastest rate on record, registering a whopping 38.48% decline year-over-year.
Another important insight, at $1.074 trillion the total CP market is now 15.56% smaller than the $1.272 trillion seen at the bottom of the last contraction in late 2003.
The CP market that expanded wildly throughout 2004, 2005, 2006 and most of 2007 is now no more, replaced instead by one smaller and contracting faster than at any other time in this century.