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The auctions of Swiss government bonds: should the Treasury price discriminate or not?

  • Daniel Heller
  • Yvan Lengwiler

Ever since Friedman's (1960) contribution, there has been an ongoing controversy about whether the Treasury should auction off its government debt with a discriminatory or with a uniform price format. Many industrialized countries, the United States or Germany, for instance, use discriminatory auctions, while Switzerland applies to uniform price rule. Using recent contributions to multi-unit auction theory, we analyze data on the bids submitted to Swiss Treasury bond auctions over the last three years. We then construct hypothetical bid functions that would occur under price discrimination. Based on these bid functions, we determine which auction format minimizes the government's costs of financing its debt.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 1998-11.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1998-11
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  1. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1981. "Allocation Mechanisms and the Design of Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1477-99, November.
  2. 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.
  3. Back, Kerry & Zender, Jaime F, 1993. "Auctions of Divisible Goods: On the Rationale for the Treasury Experiment," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(4), pages 733-64.
  4. Wilson, Robert, 1979. "Auctions of Shares," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 675-89, November.
  5. Nautz, D., 1995. "Optimal bidding in multi-unit auctions with many bidders," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 301-306, June.
  6. V.V. Chari & Robert J. Weber, 1992. "How the U.S. Treasury should auction its debt," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 3-12.
  7. Noussair, Charles, 1995. "Equilibria in a Multi-object Uniform Price Sealed Bid Auction with Multi-unit Demands," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 337-51, March.
  8. Mark Deacon & Andrew Derry, 1994. "Deriving Estimates of Inflation Expectations from the Prices of UK Government Bonds," Bank of England working papers 23, Bank of England.
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