Policymakers and market participants are closely watching liquidity conditions in the U.S. Treasury securities market. Such conditions matter because liquidity is crucial to the many important uses of Treasury securities in financial markets. But just how liquid has the market been and how unusual is the liquidity given the higher-than-usual volatility? In this post, we assess the recent evolution of Treasury market liquidity and its relationship with price volatility and find that while the market has been less liquid in 2022, it has not been unusually illiquid after accounting for the high level of volatility.
The market for U.S. Treasury securities experienced extreme stress in March 2020, when prices dropped precipitously (yields spiked) over a period of about two weeks. This was highly unusual, as Treasury prices typically increase during times of stress. Using a theoretical model, we show that markets for safe assets can be fragile due to strategic interactions among investors who hold Treasury securities for their liquidity characteristics. Worried about having to sell at potentially worse prices in the future, such investors may sell preemptively, leading to self-fulfilling “market runs” that are similar to traditional bank runs in some respects.
Fleming and Ruela take a first look at the U.S. government’s new 20-year bond, using a short sample of available data to describe its trading activity and liquidity.