The Demand for Treasury Debt

56 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2007 Last revised: 12 Sep 2022

Date Written: January 2007

Abstract

We show that the US Debt/GDP ratio is negatively correlated with the spread between corporate bond yields and Treasury bond yields. The result holds even when controlling for the default risk on corporate bonds. We argue that the corporate bond spread reflects a convenience yield that investors attribute to Treasury debt. Changes in the supply of Treasury debt trace out the demand for convenience by investors. We show that the aggregate demand curve for the convenience provided by Treasury debt is downward sloping and provide estimates of the elasticity of demand. We analyze disaggregated data from the Flow of Funds Accounts of the Federal Reserve and show that individual groups of Treasury holders also have downward sloping demand curves. Even groups with the most elastic demand curves have demand curves that are far from flat. The results have bearing for important questions in finance and macroeconomics. We discuss implications for the behavior of corporate bond spreads, interest rate swap spreads, the riskless interest rate, and the value of aggregate liquidity. We also discuss the implications of our results for the financing of the US deficit, Ricardian equivalence, and the effects of foreign central bank demand on Treasury yields.

Suggested Citation

Vissing-Jorgensen, Annette and Krishnamurthy, Arvind, The Demand for Treasury Debt (January 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w12881, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=960455

Annette Vissing-Jorgensen

Federal Reserve Board ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20015
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Arvind Krishnamurthy (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-2671 (Phone)
847-491-5719 (Fax)

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