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The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the Federal Reserve to pledge to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amount needed to support the smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to the economy. But some market participants have questioned whether something more might not be required, including possibly some form of direct yield curve control. In the first half of the 1940s the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sought to manage the level and shape of the Treasury yield curve. In this post, we examine what can be learned from the FOMC’s efforts of seventy-five years ago.
Michael J. Fleming, Peter Johansson, Frank M. Keane, and Justin Meyer
Five years ago today, U.S. Treasury yields plunged and then quickly rebounded for no apparent reason amid high volatility, strained liquidity conditions, and record trading volume in the market. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, then a Board governor, noted that such episodes, “threaten to erode investor confidence” and that investors need “to have full faith in the structure and functioning of Treasury markets themselves.” The October 15, 2014, “flash rally” led to an interagency staff report on the events of that day, an annual series of Treasury market conferences, additional study of clearing and settlement practices, and the introduction of a new transactions reporting scheme. Many of these developments are discussed in posts (see, for example, here and here) in the Liberty Street Economics archive.
As the aggregate supply of reserves shrinks and large banks implement liquidity regulations, they may follow a variety of liquidity management strategies depending on their business models and the interest rate differences between alternative liquid instruments. For example, the banks may continue to hold large amounts of excess reserves or shift to Treasury or agency securities or shrink their balance sheets. In this post, we provide new evidence on how large banks have managed their cash, which is the largest component of reserves, on a daily basis since the implementation of liquidity regulations.
The price impact of a trade derives largely from its information content. The “workup” mechanism, a trading protocol used in the U.S. Treasury securities market, is designed to mitigate the instantaneous price impact of a trade by allowing market participants to trade additional quantities of a security after a buyer and seller first agree on its price. Nevertheless, workup trades are not necessarily free of information. In this post, we assess the role of workups in price discovery, following our recent paper in the Review of Asset Pricing Studies (an earlier version of which was released as a New York Fed staff report).
Marco Del Negro, Domenico Giannone, Marc Giannoni, Andrea Tambalotti, Brandyn Bok, and Eric Qian
Long-term government bond yields are at their lowest levels of the past 150 years in advanced economies. In this blog post, we argue that this low-interest-rate environment reflects secular global forces that have lowered real interest rates by about two percentage points over the past forty years. The magnitude of this decline has been nearly the same in all advanced economies, since their real interest rates have converged over this period. The key factors behind this development are an increase in demand for safety and liquidity among investors and a slowdown in global economic growth.
Adam Copeland, Michael J. Fleming, Frank M. Keane, and Radhika Mithal
The Treasury Market Practices Group (TMPG) recently released a consultative white paper on clearing and settlement processes for secondary market trades of U.S. Treasury securities. The paper describes in detail the many ways Treasury trades are cleared and settled— information that may not be readily available to all market participants—and identifies potential risk and resiliency issues. The work is designed to facilitate discussion as to whether current practices have room for improvement. In this post, we summarize the current state of clearing and settlement for secondary market Treasury trades and highlight some of the risks described in the white paper.
In January 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department made its first sale of floating rate notes (FRNs), securities whose coupon rates vary over time depending on the course of short-term rates. Now that a few years have passed, we have enough data to analyze dealer trading and positioning in FRNs. In this post, we assess the level of trading and positioning, concentration across issues, and auction cycle effects, comparing these properties to those of other types of Treasury securities.
Marco Del Negro, Domenico Giannone, Marc Giannoni, and Andrea Tambalotti
First of three posts
Interest rates in the United States have remained at historically low levels for many years. This series of posts explores the forces behind the persistence of low rates. We briefly discuss some of the explanations advanced in the academic literature, and propose an alternative hypothesis that centers on the premium associated with safe and liquid assets. Our argument, outlined in a paper we presented at the Brookings Conference on Economic Activity last March, suggests that the increase in this premium since the late 1990s has been a key driver of the decline in the real return on U.S. Treasury securities.
Over the last decade, the concept of “safe assets” has received increasing attention, from regulators and private market participants, as well as researchers. This attention has led to the uncovering of some important details and nuances of what makes an asset “safe” and why it matters. In this blog post, we provide a review of the different aspects of safe assets, discuss possible reasons why they may be beneficial for investors, and give concrete examples of what these assets are in practice.
Kenneth D. Garbade, Frank M. Keane, and Radhika Mithal
The Treasury Market Practices Group (TMPG) was formed in February 2007 in response to the appearance of some questionable trading practices in the secondary market for U.S. Treasury securities. (A history of the origins of the TMPG is available here.) Left unaddressed, the practices threatened to harm the efficiency and integrity of an essential global benchmark market. The Group responded by identifying and publicizing “best practices” in trading Treasury securities—a statement of behavioral norms intended to maintain a level and competitive playing field for all market participants. The Group’s focus expanded in 2008 to include market architecture issues, and again in 2010 to include the federal agency debt and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) markets.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.
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