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posted on 26 June 2015

From The Vault: Gauging Treasury Market Liquidity

by Liberty Street Economics

-- this post authored by Anna Snider

Recent news and market analysis has featured a spate of warnings about diminished liquidity in the U.S. Treasury market and reminders of how quickly markets can seize. It's a topic we've addressed on our blog with an investigation of the bond market sell-off of 2013.

As the Liberty Street Economics post notes, in markets such as the one for U.S. Treasuries, liquidity hinges in part on whether dealers respond to temporary imbalances in supply and demand by stepping in as buyers or sellers against trades sought by other market participants. The authors ask whether something has altered dealers' willingness or ability to make markets. Their analysis weighs competing theories, including the role of regulatory constraints imposed in the wake of the financial crisis. They also develop some novel metrics for assessing dealers' capacity for and interest in using their balance sheets to support market functioning.

In a related post, two of the same authors put the 2013 bond market turmoil in historical perspective. They find that the May-July episode ranked as the thirteenth largest sell-off since 1961, by their measure, and present evidence that the episode was driven by increases in the term premium, as opposed to changes in the expected path of future short-term interest rates.

Our bloggers plan to describe related analysis in a forthcoming series in Liberty Street Economics. Stay tuned.

Vault Reading:

Dealer Balance Sheet Capacity and Market Liquidity during the 2013 Selloff in Fixed-Income Markets

By Tobias Adrian, Michael Fleming, Jonathan Goldberg, Morgan Lewis, Fabio Natalucci, and Jason Wu

The Recent Bond Market Selloff in Historical Perspective

By Tobias Adrian and Michael Fleming


The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author.


About the Author

Anna Snider is a cross-media editor in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Research and Statistics Group.

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