The topics covered on Liberty Street Economics in 2023 hit many themes, reflecting the range of research interests of the more than sixty staff economists at the New York Fed and their coauthors. We published 122 posts this year, exploring important subjects such as equitable growth and the economic impacts of extreme weather, alongside our deep and long-standing coverage of topics like inflation, banking system vulnerability, international economics, and monetary policy effects. As we close out the year, we’re taking a look back at the top five posts. See you again in 2024.
In a 2022 post, we showed how liquidity conditions in the U.S. Treasury securities market had worsened as supply disruptions, high inflation, and geopolitical conflict increased uncertainty about the expected path of interest rates. In this post, we revisit some commonly used metrics to assess how market liquidity has evolved since. We find that liquidity worsened abruptly in March 2023 after the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, but then quickly improved to levels close to those of the preceding year. As in 2022, liquidity in 2023 continues to closely track the level that would be expected by the path of interest rate volatility.
This post estimates “convenience yields” for government debt in ten of the G11 currencies based on analysis from a recent paper. As in our companion post, we measure convenience yields with option-implied box rate data that is estimated from options traded on the main stock market index in each country. We find that a country’s average convenience yield is closely related to its level of interest rates. In addition, we find that average covered interest parity (CIP) deviations are roughly the same across countries when they are measured with box rates. We rationalize these findings with a model in which convenience yields depend on domestic financial intermediaries, but CIP deviations depend on international arbitrageurs funded with dollar debt.
One of the most fundamental concepts in finance is the notion of a risk-free rate. This interest rate tells us how much money investors are guaranteed to receive in the future by saving one dollar today. As a result, risk-free rates reflect investors’ preferences for payoffs in the future relative to the present. Yields on U.S. Treasury securities are generally viewed as a standard benchmark for the risk-free rate, but they may also feature a “convenience yield,” reflecting Treasuries’ special, money-like properties. In this post, we estimate a risk-free rate implicit in the prices of S&P 500 index options—called the box rate—to measure investors’ time preference separate from Treasury convenience yields.
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 U.S. Treasury market is one of the most liquid financial markets in the world, and Treasury bonds have long been considered a safe haven for global investors. It is often believed that Treasury bonds earn a “convenience yield,” in the sense that investors are willing to accept a lower yield on them compared to other investments with the same cash flows owing to Treasury bonds’ safety and liquidity. However, since the global financial crisis (GFC), long-maturity U.S. Treasury bonds have traded at a yield consistently above the interest rate swap rate of the same maturity. The emergence of the “negative swap spread” appears to suggest that Treasury bonds are “inconvenient,” at least relative to interest rate swaps. This post dives into this Treasury “inconvenience” premium and highlights the role of dealers’ balance sheet constraints in explaining it.
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.
The economic disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a global dash-for-cash as investors sold securities rapidly. This selling pressure occurred across advanced sovereign bond markets and caused a deterioration in market functioning, leading to a number of central bank actions. In this post, we highlight results from a recent paper in which we show that these disruptions occurred disproportionately in the U.S. Treasury market and offer explanations for why investors’ selling pressures were more pronounced and broad-based in this market than in other sovereign bond markets.
On November 17, 2021, the New York Fed hosted the seventh annual Conference on the U.S. Treasury Market. The one-day event, held virtually, was co-sponsored by 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). The agenda featured one panel on the effects of sudden changes in investor positioning, and two panels discussing proposals to strengthen Treasury market resiliency and improve market intermediation from various public and private sector perspectives. Speeches touched on recommendations from a recent progress report by the Inter-Agency Working Group for Treasury Market Surveillance (IAWG), and efforts to improve market resilience by reforming market structure and regulation. Finally, a fireside chat discussed the importance of increasing diversity of experiences and perspectives within the public and private sectors.