LeoGlossary: US Treasuries

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U.S. Treasuries, or U.S. Treasury securities, are debt instruments issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to raise funds for various government activities and to manage the national debt. These securities are considered among the safest investments.

There are several types of U.S. Treasuries, including:

  1. Treasury Bills (T-Bills): Short-term securities with maturities ranging from a few days to one year. They are sold at a discount to their face value, and the difference between the purchase price and the face value is the investor's return.
  1. Treasury Note (T-Notes): Medium-term securities with maturities ranging from two to ten years. They pay interest every six months.
  1. Treasury Bonds (T-Bonds: Long-term securities with maturities greater than ten years, often up to 30 years. Like T-Notes, they pay interest every six months.
  1. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS): These securities are designed to protect investors from inflation. The principal amount of TIPS increases with inflation and decreases with deflation, while interest payments are made on the adjusted principal.
  1. Savings Bonds: Series EE and Series I savings bonds are non-tradable, long-term savings products issued by the U.S. government. They are often used by individuals as a safe, long-term savings option.

Investors, including individuals, institutions, and foreign governments, buy these securities as a way to preserve capital, generate income, and diversify their investment portfolios. The interest rates on U.S. Treasuries are influenced by various factors, including economic conditions, inflation expectations, and monetary policy.


The history of US Treasuries dates back to the American Revolution. In 1775, the Continental Congress issued paper money, called Continental Dollars, to finance the war effort. However, this money quickly lost its value, and by the end of the war, it was virtually worthless.

After the war, the newly formed US government needed to find a way to finance its operations and pay off its debts. To do this, it began issuing Treasury securities, which are essentially loans that investors make to the government.

The first Treasury securities were issued in 1789. These were short-term notes that matured within a few months. In 1790, the government began issuing longer-term bonds, which matured within 10 years.

Over the years, the US Treasury has issued a variety of different types of securities, including Treasury bills, notes, bonds, and TIPS. Treasury bills are the shortest-term securities, with maturities of up to one year. Treasury notes have maturities of two to 10 years, and Treasury bonds have maturities of 10 years or more. TIPS are Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, which means that their principal value is adjusted for inflation.

US Treasuries are considered to be among the safest investments in the world. This is because the US government has a long history of paying its debts on time and in full. As a result, Treasuries are often used as a safe haven for investors during times of economic uncertainty.

Here is a brief timeline of some key events in the history of US Treasuries:

  • 1775: The Continental Congress issues Continental Dollars to finance the American Revolution.
  • 1789: The US Treasury is established and begins issuing Treasury securities.
  • 1861: The US Treasury issues Civil war bonds to finance the Union war effort.
  • 1942: The US Treasury issues War Bonds to finance World War II.
  • 1963: The US Treasury introduces competitive bidding for Treasury bonds.
  • 1974: The US Treasury begins issuing 25-year bonds.
  • 1977: The US Treasury begins issuing 30-year bonds.
  • 1985: The US Treasury issues the first Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).
  • 2008: The US Treasury issues a record amount of debt to finance the bailout of the financial system.

Today, US Treasuries are the largest and most liquid bond market in the world. They are used by investors of all types, including individuals, corporations, and central banks. US Treasuries play an important role in the global economy, and they are considered to be a key benchmark for interest rates and other financial instruments.

U.S. Treasury Market

The market for U.S. Treasuries is one of the largest and most liquid bond markets globally. It plays a crucial role in the functioning of the U.S. financial system and has far-reaching implications for the domestic and global economy. Here are some key aspects of the market and its impact:

  1. Size and Liquidity:
    • The U.S. Treasury market is enormous, with outstanding debt totaling trillions of dollars. Treasury securities are actively traded in both the primary and secondary markets.
    • High liquidity is a defining feature of the market, making it easy for investors to buy and sell Treasury securities with minimal impact on prices.
  1. Benchmark for Interest Rates:
    • Yields on U.S. Treasuries serve as a benchmark for interest rates across the financial system. Changes in Treasury yields influence interest rates on a wide [range of financial products, including mortgages, corporate bonds, and various lending rates.
  1. Safe-Haven Status:
    • U.S. Treasuries are considered a safe-haven asset, especially during times of economic uncertainty or geopolitical instability. Investors often flock to Treasuries as a relatively low-risk investment, which can lead to a decrease in yields when demand increases.
  1. Impact on Borrowing Costs:
    • The U.S. government's borrowing costs are directly affected by the yields on Treasury securities. Higher demand for Treasuries typically leads to lower yields, reducing the cost of government borrowing. Conversely, increased yields may result in higher borrowing costs.
  1. Influence on Monetary Policy:
  1. Global Impact:
    • U.S. Treasuries are widely held by foreign governments, central banks, and international investors. The market's size and stability make it attractive for diversifying foreign exchange reserves.
    • Changes in U.S. Treasury yields can have global implications, affecting interest rates and investment decisions worldwide. They can influence capital flows, exchange rates, and the overall stability of the global financial system.
  1. Trade alance and Exchange Rates:
    • The demand for U.S. Treasuries can impact the value of the U.S. dollar. Foreign entities buying Treasuries can lead to an increase in demand for U.S. dollars, potentially strengthening the currency. This, in turn, can affect the U.S. trade balance.
  1. Economic Indicators:
    • Treasury yields are closely watched as economic indicators. Inverted yield curves (where short-term yields exceed long-term yields) are sometimes seen as a signal of an impending economic downturn.

In summary, the U.S. Treasury market is a cornerstone of the global financial system. Movements in Treasury yields have wide-ranging effects on interest rates, investment decisions, exchange rates, and overall economic conditions, both in the United States and around the world.


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