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Michael William Sunner, Ph.D.
SUNNER & ASSOCIATES
Michael William Sunner was a senior manager at Treasury for over 23 years and was responsible for overall compliance with Treasury’s auction program and risk management activities. Previously he was responsible for Treasury’s financing operations, which includes auctions and buybacks of Treasury marketable debt securities and operational oversight of the Federal Reserve’s “Fedwire Securities Service,” which issues, holds, maintains, transfers, and redeems Treasury marketable debt securities (i.e., the National Book-Entry System).
He helped lead the Treasury-Federal Reserve Project Team that implemented Treasury’s Automated Auction Processing
System (TAAPS) in 1993, and was the key person responsible for the codification of Treasury’s auction rules in that same year. He was project manager for Treasury’s Inflation-Indexed Securities, which were implemented in 1997, and he also was responsible for developing and implementing Treasury’s buy-back program and its comprehensive auction compliance program. He was the lead in the redesign and engineering of Treasury’s auction processes in order to implement a 2-minute auction, and has had management responsibility for Treasury’s systems development and design teams for over 15 years. These project groups developed, enabled, and deployed two separate versions of TAAPSLink (TL v1 and TL v2). The version TL v2, provided Primary Dealers access over a Virtual Private Network using frame relay, which supports a web-based browser bidding system and was used exclusively by Primary Dealers to submit bids for Treasury’s marketable debt auctions. This basic infrastructure is still used today with the current TAAPS, which was deployed after 5 years of design and development work on April 7, 2008.
He led Treasury’s 2004 Auction Enhancement Project which involved changing Treasury’s pricing convention to 6-decimals in all auction automated systems, providing for negative yield bidding for TIPS, zero-filling rates/yields for all bids submitted with less than 3 decimals, and providing the news services with additional auction statistics electronically using XML technology. The project also implemented raising the noncompetitive bid and award limits for Treasury bills to $5 million.
Michael has worked in various federal, state, and local government programs for over 30 years. He joined the Treasury in 1988, and he holds a Master's and Ph.D. in Political Science with specialties in Public Administration, Constitutional, International, and Public law. His doctoral dissertation topic was on Newsmen’s Privilege, and First Amendment rights. He has published several articles on debt collection and Treasury debt financing (1985-1995), and co-authored an article (1999) explaining the fungibility of Treasury interest payments for inflation-indexed securities (TIPS). In May 2004, he published an article on “Continuous Improvement in Treasury’s Debt Management Program.” His most recent publication was released in October 2007 in the Journal of Securities Compliance, Volume 1, Number 1, “U.S. Treasury Auction Compliance: How Dealer Visits are Conducted, What is Discussed and Treasury Expectations for Auction Participation.” He is currently working on a publication that takes the reader from the 1990’s Salomon debacle to present day Treasury auctions. Publication date is expected to be in March 2011.
Over his years of service, he advised staff on improving Treasury’s automated auction systems especially with respect to managing operational risk, security, and regulatory compliance. As part of furtherance of a global risk management strategy, he established an additional Treasury auction contingency site in 2003, which is now fully operational. Dr. Sunner worked closely with the primary dealer community to ensure that auctions and settlement of Treasury securities would continue in the event of a major disaster event. Toward that end, he developed a Strategic Plan for Business Continuity, agreed to by the United States Treasury, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and 18 Primary Dealers. He was a regular speaker at industry conferences sponsored by SIFMA and the Global Investment Operations group. He also participated regularly on SIFMA’s Operations Committee. Dr. Sunner’s new book, Borrowing Through the U.S. Treasury’s “Fast Money Tree,” The Need to Balance Austerity and Growth in the 21st Century is available through Amazon and Borders.
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Borrowing Through the U.S. Treasury's Fast Money Tree: The Need to Balance Austerity and Growth in the 21st Century
Dr. Sunner’s new book, Borrowing Through the U.S. Treasury’s “Fast Money Tree,” The Need to Balance Austerity and Growth in the 21st Century is available through Amazon and Borders. This treatise is the first comprehensive review of the Treasury auction program, and was written to give the reader a different
and more accurate perspective on Treasury’s somewhat complicated, but extremely efficient borrowing process and its historical antecedents. Because the debt ceiling took center stage during the Spring and Summer of 2011, it seemed appropriate to take a closer look at how the country came so close to a default, and the slippery slope Congress and the President followed to avert a default prior to the August 2, 2011 drop dead date for raising the debt ceiling. An update that covers the recent debt ceiling crisis is provided (Chapter 2), which offers informed opinion and insight regarding the competing philosophies – austerity versus growth - being put forth by political parties in the U.S. and those in Europe. Chapter 3 presents a plausible and provocative argument that would allow the President of the United States the power under the Constitution to singularly authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to borrow in excess of the statutory limit. Next, Chapter 4 revisits the argument for a return to the ‘gold standard” as well as featuring a discussion of the historical significance of the “gold clause” cases and their relationship to government debt. Treasury debt managers have long held that the U.S. Government will achieve its desired outcome of borrowing at the lowest possible cost over time by continuous improvement in the auction process, and ensuring that auction results are issued to the public quickly, accurately, and consistently. Chapter 5 and 6 discuss the “nuts and bolts” of Treasury auctions, and a detailed examination of how the Treasury fulfills its responsibility to routinely raise the necessary funds through the “Fast Money Tree” in order to carry out the multifaceted and complex operations of the U.S. Government. Also, the process through which critical auction information is disseminated directly, quickly and accurately to the public to achieve substantial cost savings to the taxpayer is thoroughly reviewed. Furthermore, the historical antecedents and significance of speeding up the delivery of auction results is closely examined, along with Treasury’s dealer visits, compliance and contingency programs. Any study of Treasury auctions must, perforce, include an assessment of the political impact of the 1991 Salomon scandal on today’s auction processes (see Chapter 9). Furthermore, in Chapter 10, a detailed description of the salient features of the Treasury auction process is provided including Treasury’s “heralded” Primary Dealer visits to monitor dealer auction operations, compliance with auction rules. Later the Treasury’s auction contingency plans are outlined along with efforts to guard against the threat of global terrorism that reared its ugly head on “9/11,” which caused the Treasury to cancel a scheduled auction (see Chapter 13). Finally, a number of informative appendices have been added, which offer details regarding Treasury’s efforts to remain under the debt ceiling during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis; how Treasury caught China hiding its participation in auctions using the guarantee provision in the auction rules; the workings of the STRIPS program; the emergence of direct bidders in Treasury auctions; the journey to implement two-minute auctions; and a description of the debt buyback program before it was discontinued. Also included are two separate appendices that provide historical information that document auction automation changes from 1992 – 2011, and changes in Treasury auction policies and procedures from 1929 – 2011.
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