The New York Fed’s Treasury Market Practices Group (TMPG) recently released a consultative white paper on clearing and settlement processes for secured financing trades (SFT) involving U.S. Treasury securities. The paper describes the many ways that Treasury SFTs are cleared and settled— information that may not be readily available to all market participants. It also identifies potential risk and resiliency issues, and so promotes discussion about whether current practices have room for improvement. This work is timely given the SEC’s ongoing efforts to improve transparency and lower systemic risk in the Treasury market by increasing the prevalence of central clearing. In this post, we summarize the current state of clearing and settlement for Treasury SFTs and highlight some of the key risks described in the white paper.
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.
Treasury yields have risen sharply in recent months. The yield on the most recently issued ten-year note, for example, rose from 1.73 percent on March 4 to 3.48 percent on June 14, reaching its highest level since April 2011. Increasing yields result in realized or mark-to-market losses for fixed-income investors. In this post, we put these losses in historical perspective and investigate whether longer-term yield changes are better explained by expectations of higher short-term rates or by investors demanding greater compensation for holding Treasury securities.
The fiscal packages passed in 2020 and 2021 to help the economy cope with the pandemic caused a dramatic increase in federal government borrowing. One might have expected that foreign investors were important buyers of this new debt, but that was not the case. They were instead net sellers of Treasury securities. Still, the amount of money flowing into the United States increased last year, which helped fund the government’s borrowing, if only indirectly. The upturn in inflows, though, was quite modest as a surge in domestic personal saving largely covered the government’s heightened borrowing needs. How the reliance on foreign funds changes in 2021, when the government deficit will again be quite elevated, will depend on whether domestic personal saving remains high.
Since 2008, the Federal Reserve has dramatically increased the supply of bank reserves, effectively adopting a floor system for monetary policy implementation. Since then, the behavior of short-term money market rates has been at times puzzling. In particular, short-term rates have been surprisingly firm in recent months, despite the large increase in reserves by the Fed as a part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic. In this post, we provide evidence that both the supply of reserves and the supply of short-term Treasury securities are important factors for explaining short-term rates.
A key objective of recent Federal Reserve policy actions is to address the deterioration in financial market functioning. The U.S. Treasury securities market, in particular, has been the subject of Fed and market participants’ concerns, and the venue for some of the Fed’s initiatives. In this post, we evaluate a basic metric of market functioning for Treasury securities—market liquidity—through the first month of the Fed’s extraordinary actions. Our particular focus is on how liquidity in March 2020 compares to that observed over the past fifteen years, a period that includes the 2007-09 financial crisis.
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.
The size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet increased greatly between 2009 and 2014 owing to large-scale asset purchases. The balance sheet has stayed at a high level since then through the ongoing reinvestment of principal repayments on securities that the Fed holds. When the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decides to reduce the size of the Fed’s balance sheet, it is expected to do so by gradually reducing the pace of reinvestments, as outlined in the June 2017 addendum to the FOMC’s Policy Normalization Principles and Plans. How do asset purchases increase the size of the Fed’s balance sheet? And how would reducing reinvestments reduce the size of the balance sheet? In this post, we answer these questions by describing the mechanics of the Fed’s balance sheet. In our next post, we will describe the balance sheet mechanics with respect to agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS).
Greater transparency is coming to the U.S. Treasury securities market. Members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) will be required to report their trades in Treasuries using FINRA’s Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine (TRACE) starting July 10, 2017. Although initial collection efforts are focused on providing such data to the official sector, the public will likely have access in the future. In this post, I discuss the motivation for such reporting, how it came to be decided on, and the evidence from the corporate bond market on how public access to such data affects trading costs.
The Federal Reserve lends specific Treasury and agency debt securities held in its System Open Market Account (SOMA)—and accepts general Treasury securities as collateral—through its daily securities lending program