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Price Discovery in the U.S. Treasury Cash Market: On Principal Trading Firms and Dealers

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  • James Collin Harkrader
  • Michael Puglia

Abstract

We explore the following question: does the trading activity of registered dealers on Treasury interdealer broker (IDB) platforms differ from that of principal trading firms (PTFs), and if so, how and to what effect on market liquidity? To do so, we use a novel dataset that combines Treasury cash transaction reports from FINRA’s Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine (TRACE) and publicly available limit order book data from BrokerTec. We find that trades conducted in a limit order book setting have high permanent price impact when a PTF is the passive party, playing the role of liquidity provider. Conversely, we find that dealer trades have higher price impact when the dealer is the aggressive party, playing the role of liquidity taker. Trades in which multiple firms (whether dealers or PTFs) participate on one or both sides, however, have relatively low price impact. We interpret these results in light of theoretical models suggesting that traders with only a “small†informational advantage prefer to use (passive) limit orders, while traders with a comparatively large informational advantage prefer to use (aggressive) market orders. We also analyze the events that occurred in Treasury markets in March 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • James Collin Harkrader & Michael Puglia, 2020. "Price Discovery in the U.S. Treasury Cash Market: On Principal Trading Firms and Dealers," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2020-096, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2020-96
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2020.096
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. James Collin Harkrader & Michael Puglia, 2020. "Fixed Income Market Structure: Treasuries vs. Agency MBS," FEDS Notes 2020-08-25, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. James Collin Harkrader & Michael Puglia, 2020. "Retrospective: The Agency MBS Market on October 15, 2014," FEDS Notes 2020-09-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Treasury markets; High frequency trading; Market microstructure; Price discovery; Price impact; PTFs; Dealers; Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine; BrokerTec;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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