Treasury bills (T-bills) are short-term debt securities issued by the U.S. government through the Treasury Department to help finance the national debt. These debt instruments mature within a year and are issued at a discount to par value. The maturity term for T-bills are: 1 month (or 4 weeks), 3 months (or 13 weeks), 6 months (or 26 weeks), and 1 year (or 52 weeks). The minimum amount you can buy a bill for is $100, although the most commonly sold bills have a par between $1,000 and $10,000. The bills are considered risk-free securities since they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government and, hence, the yield on these securities is used as the benchmark for short-term interest rates. Treasury bills are issued in electronic form through an auction bidding process which is conducted every week.
Bids can be made online for Internet auctions, or in person for live auctions. Accepted forms of payment typically are major credit cards and checks, and payment is due at the time of the close of the auction. Details may vary among auction houses and the state the auction is held in. As with all auctions, the vehicle is sold to the highest bidder.
Silent auction is a variant of the English auction in which bids are written on a sheet of paper. At the predetermined end of the auction, the highest listed bidder wins the item. This auction is often used in charity events, with many items auctioned simultaneously and "closed" at a common finish time. The auction is "silent" in that there is no auctioneer selling individual items, the bidders writing their bids on a bidding sheet often left on a table near the item. At charity auctions, bid sheets usually have a fixed starting amount, predetermined bid increments, and a "guaranteed bid" amount which works the same as a "buy now" amount. Other variations of this type of auction may include sealed bids. The highest bidder pays the price he or she submitted.
Treasury Department Auctions: The other agency very active in holding auctions is the Treasury Department, with roughly 300 sales per year. Treasury often offers in-person previews in California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas. Treasury auctions off "property forfeited as a result of violations of federal law enforced by the Department of Treasury or nonpayment of Internal Revenue Service taxes," according to its website. There are many categories of goods, including concrete items like antiques and coins but also less tangible property like stocks and patents.
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