Treasury ramps up auctions as borrowing, virus surges

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department will ramp up the size of the bonds and other securities it auctions across-the-board in the face of the unprecedented borrowing needs of the the U.S. government as cases of COVID-19 surge in parts of the country.

Treasury officials said today that the billions of dollars in auction increases include a $2 billion increase in the three-year note, a $9 billion increase in its 10-year note and a $7 billion increase in its 30-year bond.

Those three securities will be auctioned next week as part of the government’s quarterly refunding where it raises a significant part of its borrowing needs each quarter.

The Treasury laid out plans to increase the size of other securities and to keep increasing those sizes over the next few months.

“Treasury continues to face unprecedented borrowing needs as a result of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Brian Smith, deputy assistant secretary for federal finance.

The increases announced include an $8 billion boost to the new 20-year bond to a total of $25 billion in August. Treasury in May brought back the 20-year bond, which had last been issued in 1986.

Treasury announced on Monday that it projects government borrowing of $947 in the current quarter that runs through September, which would be a record for this three-month period, but down from the all-time high of $2.75 trillion of borrowing last quarter.

The Treasury expects borrowing will hit $1.22 trillion in the October-December quarter. The estimate for this quarter and the next include $1 trillion in expected borrowing to finance another economic relief package. That package is being negotiated currently and Treasury officials said the $1 billion estimate would be adjusted based on the final size of the legislation that Congress approves.