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Price Formation in the OTC Corporate Bond Markets: A Field Study of the Inter-Dealer Market

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  • Anthony Saunders
  • Anand Srinivasan
  • Ingo Walter

Abstract

This is the first exploratory field study of the U.S. inter-dealer OTC corporate bond market. We do this by analyzing the trades of a major bond dealer and through interviews with personnel at the trading desk of this dealer. We document the competitive structure of the market in terms of the number of active dealers, the mechanism used to facilitate trades etc. We find that the mechanism of trading closely resembles a first price sealed bid auction. The number of active dealers is quite small - only 9 dealers account for a large fraction of the trades. We examine potential differences between different segments of the market. We develop a measure of competition for this bidding market based on the theory of auctions. This is the difference between the best and second best bid in a given trade. Our measure of competition indicates that competition is highest in US investment grade corporate bonds and lowest in junk bonds. We also examine the effect of size of the trade on this measure of competition. Surprisingly, large trades do not suffer from any adverse market impact. Lastly, we examine the effect of exclusion of individual bidders on the level of competition. The effect does not appear very large.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony Saunders & Anand Srinivasan & Ingo Walter, 1998. "Price Formation in the OTC Corporate Bond Markets: A Field Study of the Inter-Dealer Market," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 98-089, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:nystfi:98-089
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    File URL: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/fin/workpapers/wpa98089.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1981. "Allocation Mechanisms and the Design of Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1477-1499, November.
    2. Madhavan, Ananth & Cheng, Minder, 1997. "In Search of Liquidity: Block Trades in the Upstairs and Downstairs Markets," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(1), pages 175-203.
    3. Warga, Arthur & Welch, Ivo, 1993. "Bondholder Losses in Leveraged Buyouts," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(4), pages 959-982.
    4. Holt, Charles A, Jr, 1979. "Uncertainty and the Bidding for Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 697-705, September.
    5. Nunn, Kenneth P. & Hill, Joanne & Schneeweis, Thomas, 1986. "Corporate Bond Price Data Sources and Return/Risk Measurement," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(02), pages 197-208, June.
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