Despite the importance of when-issued trading of Treasury securities, and the advent of FINRA’s TRACE database of trading statistics, little is known publicly about the level of WI activity. In this post, the authors address this gap by analyzing WI transactions recorded in TRACE.
The New York Fed recently hosted the fourth annual Conference on the Evolving Structure of the U.S. Treasury Market. The one-day event was co-sponsored with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This year’s agenda, which included a series of keynote addresses and expert panels, focused on four key topics: 1) analytical approaches to debt issuance, 2) clearing and settlement, 3) developments in cash and repo markets, and 4) analysis of transactions data. Previous conferences were held in November 2017, October 2016, and October 2015.
Following an earlier joint FEDS Note and Liberty Street Economics blog post that examined aggregate trading volume in the Treasury cash market across venues, this post looks at volume across security type, seasoned-ness (time since issuance), and maturity. The analysis, which again relies on transactions recorded in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine (TRACE), sheds light on perceptions that some Treasury securities—in particular those that are off-the-run—may not trade very actively. We confirm that most trading volume is made up of on-the-run securities, especially in venues where the market has become more automated. However, we also find that daily average volume in off-the-run securities is still a meaningful $157 billion (27 percent of overall volume), and accounts for a large share (41 percent) of trading in the dealer-to-client venue of the market.
The U.S. Treasury market is widely regarded as the deepest and most liquid securities market in the world, playing a critical role in the global economy and in the Federal Reserve’s implementation of monetary policy. Despite the Treasury market’s importance, the official sector has historically had limited access to information on cash market transactions. This data gap was most acutely demonstrated in the investigation of the October 15, 2014, flash event in the Treasury market, as highlighted in the Joint Staff Report (JSR). Following the JSR, steps were taken to improve regulators’ access to information on Treasury market activity, as detailed in a previous Liberty Street Economics post, with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) members beginning to submit data on cash market transactions to FINRA’s Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine (TRACE) on July 10, 2017. This joint FEDS Note and Liberty Street Economics blog post from staff at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Reserve Bank of New York aims to share initial insights on the transactions data reported to TRACE, focusing on trading volumes in the market.