To finance the public debt, the U.S. Treasury sells bills, notes, bonds, Floating Rate Notes (FRNs), and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) to institutional and individual investors through public auctions. Treasury auctions occur regularly and have a set schedule. There are three steps to an auction: announcement of the auction, bidding, and issuance of the purchased securities.
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By the end of the 18th century, auctions of art works were commonly held in taverns and coffeehouses. These auctions were held daily, and auction catalogs were printed to announce available items. In some cases these catalogs were elaborate works of art themselves, containing considerable detail about the items being auctioned. At this time, Christie's established a reputation as a leading auction house, taking advantage of London's status as the major centre of the international art trade after the French Revolution.
Dutch auction also known as an open descending price auction. In the traditional Dutch auction the auctioneer begins with a high asking price for some quantity of like items; the price is lowered until a participant is willing to accept the auctioneer's price for some quantity of the goods in the lot or until the seller's reserve price is met. If the first bidder does not purchase the entire lot, the auctioneer continues lowering the price until all of the items have been bid for or the reserve price is reached. Items are allocated based on bid order; the highest bidder selects their item(s) first followed by the second highest bidder, etc. In a modification, all of the winning participants pay only the last announced price for the items that they bid on. The Dutch auction is named for its best known example, the Dutch tulip auctions. ("Dutch auction" is also sometimes used to describe online auctions where several identical goods are sold simultaneously to an equal number of high bidders.) In addition to cut flower sales in the Netherlands, Dutch auctions have also been used for perishable commodities such as fish and tobacco. The Dutch auction is not widely used, except in market orders in stock or currency exchanges, which are functionally identical.
The District of Columbia now auctions its surplus property online through GovDeals, a Liquidity Services, Inc. marketplace. The district awarded the contract for the management of the inventory, appraisal, sale and shipping of the city's surplus property to Liquidity Services Inc. LSI conducts auctions of city assets such as vehicles, police automobile accessories, computer equipment, radios and other communications equipment, office furniture and other supplies through its online marketplace. The auctions are expected to improve data tracking and financial oversight of the city's surplus asset disposition activities.