US: 2-Yr FRN Note Auction

November 22, 2016 10:30 CST

Actual Previous
Total Amount $13 B $15 B
Bid/Cover 3.32 3.35
Discount Margin 0.169% 0.170%

Results are mixed for the monthly 2-year floating rate note auction, where coverage was on the low side of this year's range but the bidding was quite tight for the floater, squeezing the high margin down to 0.169 percent, a shade below the 1:00 bid. Probably due to uncertainty regarding interest rates, end investor demand for the FRN was higher than in the prior months, with non-dealers taking down 52 percent of the $13 billion offering.

A FRN (floating rate note) is a security that has an interest payment that can change over time. As interest rates rise, the security's interest payments will increase. Similarly, as interest rates fall, the security's interest payments will decrease. The FRN is the first addition to the Treasury's offerings since inflation protected notes were introduced in 1997. Floating rate notes offer investors a chance to gain yield when interest rates rise and with short-term interest rates very low at the time of the introduction, they offer investors a low risk, high quality alternative to Treasury bills and their associated rollover costs.

For the Treasury, the notes will help it attract new investors and, as a funding substitute to T-bills, will help limit its short-term cash needs. The notes also limit rollover risk, that is the Treasury's dependence on bill holders to rollover their holdings with each new bill issue. But there is risk for the Treasury as substituting 2-year floating notes for short-term bills exposes it to a rise in interest rates, an increase that would increase its borrowing costs. Treasury FRNs will be indexed to the most recent 13-week Treasury bill auction High Rate, which is the highest accepted discount rate in a Treasury bill auction.

Treasury published amendments to its marketable securities auction rules to accommodate the auction and issuance of Floating Rate Notes (FRNs). These securities will complement Treasury's existing suite of securities, which include Treasury bills, notes, bonds and inflation-protected securities (TIPS). Treasury's introduction of FRNs will provide a number of benefits, including assisting Treasury in managing the maturity profile of the nation's marketable debt outstanding, expanding Treasury's investor base, and helping to finance the government at the lowest cost over time.

FRNs will add a new level of diversity to Treasury's existing suite of securities, thus providing Treasury debt managers with additional capability to expand the Treasury investor base and extend the weighted average maturity of marketable debt outstanding. Moreover, Treasury believes that the issuance of FRNs will contribute to the mission of financing the government at the lowest possible cost over time. Treasury FRNs will pay interest quarterly.

FRNs pose similar risks to the Treasury as Treasury bills. For example, an FRN that allows the interest payment to change on a weekly basis would expose Treasury to the same interest rate risk as issuing a series of weekly Treasury bills. However, FRNs allow Treasury to better manage its debt by issuing securities with longer maturities than Treasury bills.

For purposes of calculating auction settlement amounts and quarterly interest payments, floating rate notes will initially have a two-business-day lockout period prior to their auction settlement date or an interest payment date. Therefore, a 13-week Treasury bill auction whose rate becomes effective during the lockout period will be excluded from the calculation of accrued interest for purposes of determining that settlement amount or interest payment. Any changes in the index rate that would otherwise have occurred during the lockout period will occur on the first calendar day following the end of the lockout period.