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How the U.S. Treasury Should Auction Its Debt

Quarterly Review 1641 | Fall 1992

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How the U.S. Treasury Should Auction Its Debt


The U.S. Treasury could raise more revenue if it changed the way it auctions its debt. Under the current procedure, all bidders whose competitive bids for Treasury securities are accepted pay the prices they bid; different winning bidders, that is, pay different prices. Instead, economic theory says, all winning bidders should all pay the same price—that of the highest bid not accepted, or the price that just clears the market. This procedural change would increase the revenue that Treasury auctions raise primarily because it would decrease the amount of resources that bidders would spend collecting information about what other bidders are likely to do. It would also reduce the incentives for traders to attempt to manipulate the securities market.