A financial market place where debt instruments, primarily bonds, are bought and sold is called a bond market. The dealings in a bond market are limited to a small group of participants. Contrary to stock or commodities trading, the bond market (also known as the debt market) lacks a central exchange. The bond market (also known as the credit, or fixed income market) is a financial market where participants can issue new debt, known as the primary market, or buy and sell debt securities, known as the Secondary market, usually in the form of bonds. The primary goal of the bond market is to provide a mechanism for long term funding of public and private expenditures. Much like people, large organizations such as corporations, the federal government, and state and local governments all need to borrow money occasionally. Unlike you and me, it is awfully difficult for these organizations to get as much money as they need just with the promise to repay it the next day. Instead, they have to agree not only to pay back the amount they borrowed, but also to pay a little extra in the form of a fee (interest) for the privilege of borrowing the money.
Types of bond markets The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) classifies the broader bond market into four specific bond markets. The federal government. U.S. government bonds are called Treasuries because they are sold by the Treasury Department. Treasuries come in a variety of different "maturities," or lengths of time until maturity, ranging from three months to 30 years. Various types of Treasuries include Treasury notes, Treasury bills, Treasury bonds, and inflation-indexed notes. These all vary based on maturity and amount of interest paid Other government agencies. Some government agencies and quasi-government agencies like the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac), and the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) sell bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. for specific purposes, such as funding home ownership. Corporate bonds. Companies sell debt through the public securities markets just as they sell stock. A company has a lot of flexibility as to how much debt it can issue and what interest rate it will pay, although it must make the bond attractive enough to interest investors or no one will buy them. Corporate bonds normally carry higher interest rates than government bonds because there is a risk that the company could go bankrupt and default on the bond, unlike the government, which can just print more money if it really needs it. High-yield bonds, also known as junk bonds, are corporate bonds issued by companies whose credit quality is below investment grade. Some corporate bonds are called convertible bonds because they can be converted into stock if certain provisions are met. State and local governments (munis). Because state and local governments can go bankrupt , they have to offer competitive interest rates just like corporate bonds. Unlike corporations, though, the only way that a state can get more income is to raise taxes on its citizens, always an unpopular move. As a way around this problem, the federal government permits state and local governments to sell bonds that are free of federal income tax on the interest paid.
Characteristics of a Bond
There are four important things to know about any bond before you buy it: the par value, the coupon rate,issuer and the maturity date. Knowing these three items (and a few other odds and ends depending on what kind of bond you are buying) allows you to analyze the bond and compare it to other potential investments. Par Value:
Par value is the amount of money the investor will receive once the bond matures, meaning that the entity that sold the bond will return to the investor the original...