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Measuring treasury market liquidity

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  • Michael J. Fleming

Abstract

This paper was presented at the conference \\"Economic Statistics: New Needs for the Twenty-First Century,\\" cosponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth, and the National Association for Business Economics, July 11, 2002. Securities liquidity is important to those who transact in markets, those who monitor market conditions, and those who analyze market developments. This article estimates and evaluates a comprehensive set of liquidity measures for the U.S. Treasury securities market. The author finds that the commonly used bid-ask spread-the difference between bid and offer prices-is a useful measure for assessing and tracking liquidity. The spread is highly correlated with a more sophisticated price impact measure and is correlated with episodes of reported poor liquidity in the expected manner. He also finds that other measures correlate less strongly with episodes of poor liquidity and with the bid-ask spread and price impact measures, indicating that they are only modest proxies for market liquidity. Trading volume and trading frequency, in particular, are found to be weak proxies for market liquidity, as both high and low levels of trading activity are associated with periods of poor liquidity.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael J. Fleming, 2003. "Measuring treasury market liquidity," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 83-108.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednep:y:2003:i:sep:p:83-108:n:v.9no.3
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Government securities; Treasury notes; Treasury bills; Liquidity (Economics);
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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