The role of supervised learning in the decision process to fair trade US municipal debt


Determining a fair price and an appropriate timescale to trade municipal debt is a complex decision. This research uses data informatics to explore transaction characteristics and trading activity of investment grade US municipal bonds. Using the relatively recent data stream distributed by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, we provide an institutional summary of market participants and their trading behavior. Subsequently, we focus on a sample of AAA bonds to derive a new methodology to estimate a trade-weighted benchmark municipal yield curve. The methodology integrates the study of ridge regression, artificial neural networks, and support vector regression. We find an enhanced radial basis function artificial neural network outperforms alternate methods used to estimate municipal term structure. This result forms the foundation for establishing a decision theory on optimal municipal bond trading. Using multivariate modeling of a liquidity domain measured across three dependent variables, we investigate the proposed decision theory by estimating weekly production-theoretic bond liquidity returns to scale. Across the three liquidity measures and for almost all weeks investigated, bond trading liquidity is elastic with respect to the modeled factors. This finding leads us to conclude that an optimal trading policy for municipal debt can be implemented on a weekly timescale using the elasticity estimates of bond price, trade size, risk, days-to-maturity, and the macroeconomic influences of labor in the workforce and building activity.

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    Creal and Wu (2014) provide an alternative research strain based on affine models to demonstrate how spanned stochastic volatility captures either the cross section of yields or the fitted volatility.

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    For a complete listing, see:

  3. 3.

    All term structure curves are available at:

  4. 4.

    B-spline or basis spline is a spline function that has minimal support with respect to a given degree, smoothness, and domain partition (Wikipedia). It is provided here only as a base comparative method.


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Correspondence to Gordon H. Dash.

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Submitted for publication consideration in the Feature Issue on “Financial Decision Support”, Euro Journal on Decision Processes, 30 July 2017.

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Dash, G.H., Kajiji, N. & Vonella, D. The role of supervised learning in the decision process to fair trade US municipal debt. EURO J Decis Process 6, 139–168 (2018).

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  • Decision theory
  • Municipal bonds
  • Supervised learning
  • Production theory

JEL Classification

  • C15
  • C45
  • C55
  • C58