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Behavioral Biases of Dealers in U.S. Treasury Auctions

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  • David Goldreich

    (London Business School and CEPR)

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    Abstract

    This paper provides evidence of bounded rationality by large dealers in U.S. Treasury auctions. I argue that these dealers use a heuristic of yield-space bidding which leads to biases manifested in three ways: they submit dominated bids, i.e., those that could be improved without raising the bidding price; they bid in a manner that disregards the unevenly spaced price grid; and they round bids in yield space. Consistent with bounded rationality, I show that bidders are less susceptible to bias when the cost of suboptimal bidding is high. While the literature provides substantial evidence of behavioral biases among individual investors, they are less well documented for large sophisticated institutions that are likely to be important for setting asset prices. These primary bond dealers who regularly bid for billions of dollars in Treasury bill auctions are precisely such economic agents.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2004.143.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2004
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    Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2004.143

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    Keywords: Treasury auctions; Behavioral finance;

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    1. Nicholas Barberis & Richard Thaler, 2002. "A Survey of Behavioral Finance," NBER Working Papers 9222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
    3. Cammack, Elizabeth B, 1991. "Evidence on Bidding Strategies and the Information in Treasury Bill Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 100-130, February.
    4. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
    5. Shleifer, Andrei, 2000. "Inefficient Markets: An Introduction to Behavioral Finance," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292272, Octomber.
    6. Huberman, Gur, 2001. "Familiarity Breeds Investment," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(3), pages 659-80.
    7. French, Kenneth R & Poterba, James M, 1991. "Investor Diversification and International Equity Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 222-26, May.
    8. Michael J. Fleming & Kenneth D. Garbade & Frank Keane, 2005. "Anomalous Bidding In Short-Term Treasury Bill Auctions," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association & Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 28(2), pages 165-176.
    9. Mark Grinblatt, 2001. "How Distance, Language, and Culture Influence Stockholdings and Trades," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(3), pages 1053-1073, 06.
    10. Nyborg, Kjell G. & Sundaresan, Suresh, 1996. "Discriminatory versus uniform Treasury auctions: Evidence from when-issued transactions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 63-104, September.
    11. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
    12. Harris, Lawrence, 1991. "Stock Price Clustering and Discreteness," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 4(3), pages 389-415.
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