What Are Off-The-Run Treasuries?
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What Are Off-The-Run Treasuries?

3 Min.

Off-the-run Treasuries are any Treasury securities that have been issued, except for the newest issue, which is called on-the-run. While off-the-run Treasuries are still actively traded on the secondary market, they tend to be somewhat less liquid than on-the-run securities. The price difference between on-the-run and off-the-run Treasuries is often referred to as the liquidity premium, as the more liquid Treasuries come at a higher cost.

Basics

Off-the-run treasuries encompass all Treasury bonds and notes issued before the most recently issued bond or note with a specific maturity. In contrast, on-the-run treasuries exclusively pertain to the most recent issuances.

Exploring Off-The-Run Treasuries

When the U.S. Treasury conducts auctions for its debt securities, including Treasury notes and bonds, it establishes their pricing based on received bids and market interest. The latest issues following the auction are termed "on-the-run" Treasuries. As a result, the previously issued securities with the same maturity transition to "off-the-run" status.

For instance, if the U.S. Treasury issued 5-year notes in February, they are considered on-the-run, replacing the prior 5-year notes, which then become off-the-run. If another set of 5-year bonds is issued in March, the March notes become on-the-run, while the February notes shift to off-the-run status, and so on.

Trading Off-the-Run Treasuries

Acquiring on-the-run Treasuries is straightforward through Treasury Direct, but off-the-run securities are only accessible in the secondary market through fellow investors. In the secondary over-the-counter market, off-the-run Treasuries experience less frequent trading compared to their on-the-run counterparts, prized for their liquidity. To incentivize market participation, off-the-run Treasuries are typically priced lower and yield slightly more.

The yield spread between on-the-run and off-the-run Treasuries is significant. This spread primarily arises from the limited supply of on-the-run Treasuries, leading to higher prices and lower yields due to strong demand. In contrast, off-the-run securities are typically held until maturity in asset managers' portfolios, reducing their trading activity. Portfolio managers prefer on-the-run Treasuries for adjusting interest rate risk exposure and exploiting arbitrage opportunities, thus bolstering the liquidity of these securities.

Off-The-Run Yield Curves Explained

While on-the-run Treasury yields are commonly employed in constructing interpolated yield curves to price debt securities, some analysts opt for off-the-run Treasury yields. This choice arises from the irregular demand patterns of on-the-run Treasuries, which can lead to price distortions. By basing yield curve calculations on off-the-run Treasury rates, financial analysts can mitigate the impact of fluctuating demand on yield curve calculations and fixed-income investment pricing.

Conclusion

Off-the-run Treasuries offer a distinct perspective in the world of debt securities. They are Treasury bonds and notes issued before the most recent issuance, in contrast to the on-the-run counterparts. While off-the-run securities are less liquid and often come at a lower price, they play a crucial role in mitigating the impact of fluctuating demand on yield curve calculations. The concept of supply and demand dynamics affects the price and yield of these Treasuries, creating a significant yield spread with on-the-run securities. Understanding the unique characteristics of off-the-run Treasuries is essential for investors and analysts navigating the fixed-income market.

Off-The-Run Treasuries
Treasury Bond
Treasury Note
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