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Liquidity in U.S. Fixed Income Markets: A Comparison of the Bid-Ask Spread in Corporate, Government and Municipal Bond Markets

We examine the determinants of the realized bid-ask spread in the U.S. corporate, municipal and government bond markets for the years 1995 to 1997, based on newly available transactions data. Overall, we find that liquidity is an important determinant of the realized bid-ask spread all three markets. Specifically, in all markets, the realized bid-ask spread decreases in the trading volume. Additionally, risk factors are important in the corporate and municipal markets. […] Finally, the ten largest corporate bond dealers earn 15 cents per $100 par value higher than the remaining dealers, after controlling for differences in the characteristics of bonds traded by each group. We find no such differences for the government and municipal bond dealers [extract].