Recent innovations in Treasury cash management
The Treasury Tax and Loan program, a joint undertaking of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, is designed to manage federal tax receipts and stabilize the supply of reserves in the banking system. Three recent innovations-electronic collection of business taxes, real-time investment of excess Treasury balances, and competitive bidding for Treasury deposits-have materially enhanced the ability of the two agencies to achieve these objectives.
Beyond 30: Long-Term Treasury Bond Issuance from 1953 to 1957
Ever since “regular and predictable” issuance of coupon-bearing Treasury debt became the norm in the 1970s, thirty years has marked the outer boundary of Treasury bond maturities. However, longer-term bonds were not unknown in earlier years. Seven such bonds, including one 40-year bond, were issued between 1955 and 1963. The common thread that binds the seven bonds together was the interest of Treasury debt managers in lengthening the maturity structure of the debt. This post describes the efforts to lengthen debt maturities between 1953 and 1957. A subsequent post will examine the period ...
The early years of the primary dealer system
This paper presents a history of the primary dealer system from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. The paper focuses on two formal programs: the ?recognized? dealer program adopted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1939 and the ?qualified? dealer program adopted by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 1944 and abandoned in 1953. Following his selection as Manager of the System Open Market Account (SOMA) in 1939, Robert Rouse formalized the New York Fed?s system of ?recognized? dealer counterparties. Although the Bank typically dealt with recognized dealers, it also did ...
The Treasury Market Practices Group: A Consequential First Decade
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. ...
Direct purchases of U.S. Treasury securities by Federal Reserve banks
Until 1935, Federal Reserve Banks from time to time purchased short-term securities directly from the United States Treasury to facilitate Treasury cash management operations. The authority to undertake such purchases provided a robust safety net that ensured Treasury could meet its obligations even in the event of an unforeseen depletion of its cash balances. Congress prohibited direct purchases in 1935, but subsequently provided a limited wartime exemption in 1942. The exemption was renewed from time to time following the conclusion of the war but ultimately was allowed to expire in 1981. ...
How the Nation Resolved Its First Debt Ceiling Crisis
In the second half of 1953, the United States, for the first time, risked exceeding the statutory limit on Treasury debt. How did Congress, the White House, and Treasury officials deal with the looming crisis? As related in this post, they responded by deferring and reducing expenditures, by monetizing “free” gold that remained from the devaluation of the dollar in 1934, and ultimately by raising the debt ceiling.
Innovations in Treasury Debt Instruments
On January 31, 2012, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee advised the Secretary of the Treasury that it unanimously supported the issuance of floating-rate notes by the U.S. Treasury. Sovereign issuers are not known as hotbeds of financial innovation, and the introduction of a new sovereign debt instrument is a significant event. This post provides some perspective on the possible issuance of floating-rate notes by reviewing the history of earlier innovations in Treasury debt instruments, including Treasury bills, STRIPS, and TIPS. It concludes that the Treasury has been an infrequent, ...
The first debt ceiling crisis
In the second half of 1953 the United States, for the first time, risked exceeding the statutory limit on Treasury debt. This paper describes how Congress, the White House, and Treasury officials dealt with the looming crisis?by deferring and reducing expenditures, monetizing ?free? gold that remained from the devaluation of the dollar in 1934, and, ultimately, raising the debt ceiling.
Why the U.S. Treasury began auctioning Treasury bills in 1929
The U.S. Treasury began auctioning zero-coupon bills in 1929 to complement the fixed-price subscription offerings of coupon-bearing certificates of indebtedness, notes, and bonds that it had previously relied upon. Bills soon came to play a central role in Treasury cash and debt management. This article explains that the Treasury began auctioning bills to mitigate flaws in the structure of its financing operations that had become apparent during the 1920s. The flaws included the underpricing of new issues to limit the risk of a failed offering; borrowing in advance of actual requirements, ...
Direct Purchases of U.S. Treasury Securities by Federal Reserve Banks
From time to time, and most recently in the April 2014 meeting of the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, U.S. Treasury officials have questioned whether the Treasury should have a safety net that would allow it to continue to meet its obligations even in the event of an unforeseen depletion of its cash balances. (Cash balances can be depleted by an unanticipated shortfall in revenues or a spike in disbursements, an inability to access credit markets on a timely basis, or an auction failure.) The original version of the Federal Reserve Act provided a robust safety net because the act ...