4 basic things to know about bonds (2023)

You want to strengthen your portfoliorisk-returnprofile? Adding bonds can create a more balanced portfolio by adding diversification and peace of mindvolatility. But the bond market can seem unfamiliar to even the most seasoned investors.

Many investors only make temporary investments in bonds because they are confused by the apparent complexity of the bond market and terminology. In reality, bonds are very simple debt instruments. So how do you enter this part of the market? Get started investing in bonds by learning these basic bond market terms.

key takeaways

  • The bond market can help investors diversify beyond stocks.
  • Some of the characteristics of bonds include their maturity, their coupon rate (interest rate), their tax status, and their callability.
  • Different types of risks associated with bonds include interest rate risk, credit/default risk, and prepayment risk.
  • Most bonds come with ratings that describe their investment grade.


Definition of bonds

Basic characteristics of bonds

INtapeit is simply a loan taken out by a company. Instead of going to a bank, the company gets the money from investors who buy its bonds. in trade forcapital, the company pays coupon interest, which is the annual interest paid on a bond expressed as a percentage of face value. The company pays the interest at predetermined intervals (usually annually or semi-annually) and repays the principal on the due date, terminating the loan.

In contrast toshares, bonuses can vary significantly depending on the terms of yourwriting, a legal document that describes the characteristics of the bond. Because each bond issue is different, it is important to understand the exact terms before investing. There are six important features in particular to keep in mind when considering a bond.

Types of bonds

corporate bonds

Corporate bonds refer to debt securities that companies issue to pay their expenses and raise capital. The yield of these bonds depends on the solvency of the company that issues them. The riskiest bonds are known as "junk bonds", but they also offer the highest returns. Interest on corporate bonds is subject to both federal and local income taxes.

Government bonds

Government bonds or government debt are debt securities issued by national governments to cover their expenses. Because issuing governments are highly unlikely to default, these bonds typically have very high credit ratings and relatively low yields. In the United States, bonds issued by the federal government are calledtreasure, while those issued by the United Kingdom are calledfirst timers. Treasury bonds are exempt from state and local taxes, although they are still subject to federal income tax.

municipal bonds

municipal bonds, or munis, are bonds issued by local governments. Contrary to what the name suggests, this can refer to state and county debt, not just municipal debt. Income from municipal bonds is not subject to most taxes, making them an attractive investment for investors in higher tax brackets.

key concepts


This is the date on which the principal or face amount of the bond is paid out to investors and the bond companyobligationTherefore, it defines the useful life of the bond. a bonusmaturityIt is one of the most important considerations for an investor to weigh his goals and investment horizon. Maturity is often classified in three ways:

  • Short-term: Bonds that fall into this category tend to mature within one to three years.
  • Medium-term: The maturity dates for this type of bond are usually longer than ten years.
  • Long-term - These bonds typically mature over longer periods.

sure/not sure

A bond can be guaranteed or unguaranteed. TOguaranteed bonuscommits specific assets to bondholders if the company is unable to pay the obligation. This asset is also called collateral for the loan. So if the issuer of the bond defaults, the asset is transferred to the investor. TOmortgage-backed securities(MBS) is a type of collateralized bond that is backed by borrowers' home titles.

Unsecured bonds, on the other hand, are not backed by any collateral. This means that interest and principal are only guaranteed by the issuing company. Also calledobligations, these bonds return only a small amount of your investment if the company goes bankrupt. As such, they are much riskier than covered bonds.

settlement preference

When a company goes bankrupt, it pays investors in a certain order as it goes into liquidation. Once a company has sold all of its assets, it begins paying its investors.senior goddessit is the debt that must be paid first, followed by the subordinated (subordinated) debt.Shareholdersget what's left.


Hecouponrepresents the interest paid to bondholders, usually on an annual or semi-annual basis. The coupon is also called the coupon rate orrated performance. To calculate the coupon rate, divide the annual payments by the face value of the bond.

tax situation

While most corporate bonds are taxable investments, some government andmunicipal bondsis tax free, so income andCapital gainsthey are not taxable.Tax-free bonds typically have a lower interest rate than corresponding taxable bonds. An investor must calculate the tax equivalent return to compare the return with taxable instruments.


Some bonds can be paid by an issuer before maturity. If a bond has a collection provision, it can be paid at earlier times at the option of the company, usually with a smaller premium perstk. A company can choose to redeem its bonds ifRentergive them the opportunity to borrow at a better interest rate. Convertible bonds also attract investors because they offer better coupon rates.

Obligation risks

Bonds are a great way to make money because they tend to be relatively safe investments. However, like any other investment, they carry certain risks. These are some of the most common risks of these investments.

Interest rate risk

Renterthey share an inverse relationship with bonds, so when rates rise, bonds tend to fall and vice versa. Interest rate risk occurs when rates change significantly from what the investor expected. If interest rates fall significantly, it willinvestoris faced with the possibility of prepayment. If interest rates rise, the investor will be stuck with an instrument that yields below market rates. The longer the time to maturity, the greater interest rate risk an investor has, because it is more difficult to predict future market developments.

Credit risk/default

credit orDefault riskThere is a risk that due interest and repayments on the obligation will not be made as required. When an investor buys a bond, he expects the issuer to fulfill the interest andheadmasterpayments, like any other creditor.

When an investor looks at corporate bonds, they must weigh the possibility of the company defaulting on the debt. Security generally means that the company has higher operating income andcash flowin relation to your debt. If the opposite is the case and the debt exceeds the cash available, the investor may want to steer clear.

Risk of prepayment

PrepaymentRisk is the risk that a given bond issue will be paid off sooner than expected, typically through acall functionThis can be bad news for investors because the company only has an incentive to pay the liability early when interest rates have fallen significantly. Instead of continuing to invest in high interest rates, investors must reinvest funds in a lower interest rate environment.

bond ratings

Most bonuses come with oneclassificationthat describes your credit quality. That is, how strong the bond is and its ability to pay its principal and interest. The ratings are published and used by investors and professionals to judge your worth.


The most commonly mentioned bond rating agencies are, Moody's Investors Service, yFitch ratings. They assess a company's ability to pay its obligations. Ratings range from AAA to Aaa for high-quality issues most likely to be redeemed to D for issues that are currently in default.

Bonds with a rating of BBB to Baaor above are called investment grade. This means they are unlikely to default and tend to remain stable investments. The BBto Baor rated bonds below are referred to asJunk bonds— default is more likely and they are more speculative and subject to price volatility.

Companies will not rate their bonds, and in that case it is solely up to the investor to assess a company's ability to pay. Because rating systems are different for each agency and change from time to time, research the definition of rating for the bond issue you are considering.

bond interest

bond interestthey are all return targets. Yield to maturity is the most commonly used measure, but it is important to understand several other measures of yield that are used in certain situations.

Yield to Maturity (YTM)

As mentioned above,Yield to maturity(YTM) is the most cited performance measure. It measures what the return is on a bond if it is held to maturity and all coupons are reinvested at the YTM rate. Because coupons are unlikely to be reinvested at the same rate, an investor's actual return will vary slightly. Calculating YTM by hand is a lengthy procedure, so it is best to use Excel's RATE or YIELDMAT functions (as of Excel 2007). A simple function is also available in a financial calculator.

current performance

Hecurrent performancecan be used to compare the interest income from a bond withdivisionincome provided by an action. This is calculated by dividing the bond's annual coupon by the current price of the bond. Please note that this return only incorporates the income portion of the return, ignoring any capital gains or losses. As such, this yield is most useful for investors who are only interested in current income.

Nominal dividend

The nominal yield on a bond is simply the percentage of interest that will be paid periodically on the bond. It is calculated by dividing the annual coupon payment by the par ornominal valueIt is important to note that the nominal yield does not accurately estimate the return unless the current price of the bond is the same as its nominal value. Therefore, nominal performance is only used to calculate other performance measures.

Yield to Call (YTC)

A callable bond always has a certain probability of being called before the maturity date. Investors will notice a slightly higher pricemanufactureif the required bonds are canceled at a premium. An investor in such a bond might want to know what the return will be if the bond is called on a particular call date to determine whether the prepayment risk is worth it. The easiest is to calculateyield to callusing Excel's YIELD or IRR functions, or with a financial calculator.

achievement realized

Heachievement realizedof a bond must be calculated if an investor plans to hold a bond only for a certain period of time, rather than until maturity. In this case, the investor will sell the bond, and this expected future price of the bond must be estimated for the calculation. Because future prices are difficult to predict, this performance measure is only an estimate of performance. This return calculation is best done using Excel's return or IRR functions, or by using a financial calculator.

How do bonds pay interest?

There are two ways bondholders receive payment for their investment. Coupon payments are periodic interest payments over the life of a bond before the bond can be redeemed at face value at maturity.

Some bonuses are structured differently.zero coupon bondsthey are non-coupon bonds; the only payment is the redemption of the face value at maturity. Zeros are generally sold at a discount from face value, so the difference between purchase price and face value can be calculated as interest.

convertible bondsThey are a type of hybrid security that combines the characteristics of bonds and stocks. These are ordinary interest-bearing bonds, but they can also be converted into shares in the issuing company. This adds an additional profit opportunity if the issuing company shows large gains in its share price.

Which is bigger, the stock market or the bond market?

Hethe bond marketit is actually much bigger than the stock market in terms of added value.

What is the relationship between the price of a bond and the interest rate?

Bond prices are inversely related to interest rates. So if interest rates rise, bond prices fall and vice versa.

Are bonds risky investments?

Historically, bonds have been more conservative and less volatile than stocks, but there are still risks. There are e.gCredit riskthat the issuer of the bond will default. There is alsoInterest rate risk, where bond prices can fall if interest rates rise.

Bottom line

Although the bond market seems complex, it is actually driven by the same risk/return trade-offs as the stock market. Once an investor masters these few basic terms and measures to uncover familiar market dynamics, they can become a competent bond investor. Once you have mastered the language, the rest is easy.


What are the 4 main features of bonds? ›

Some of the characteristics of bonds include their maturity, their coupon (interest) rate, their tax status, and their callability.

What is the basic knowledge of bonds? ›

Bonds are issued by governments and corporations when they want to raise money. By buying a bond, you're giving the issuer a loan, and they agree to pay you back the face value of the loan on a specific date, and to pay you periodic interest payments along the way, usually twice a year.

What are the 5 characteristics of bonds? ›

The most important common characteristics of a bond, relate to the bond issuer, maturity date, coupon, face value, bond price, and bond yield.

Why is it important to know about bonds? ›

They provide a predictable income stream. Typically, bonds pay interest twice a year. If the bonds are held to maturity, bondholders get back the entire principal, so bonds are a way to preserve capital while investing. Bonds can help offset exposure to more volatile stock holdings.

What are the four 4 types of bonds? ›

There are four major types of chemical bonds in chemistry, which includes; Ionic bond, Covalent bond, Metallic bond, and Hydrogen bond.

What are the 4 types of bonds in finance? ›

The main types of bonds are:
  • Government.
  • Corporate.
  • Municipal.
  • Mortgage.
  • Treasury.
Jul 31, 2022

How do you explain bonds to students? ›

It is a loan — they borrow this money from you, hoping that your cash can help grow the company. You make money when they pay you back with interest over time. Usually, bonds pay some interest every quarter. Investing always comes with some risk.

What are the most important bonds? ›

The most important bonds are the U.S. Treasury bills, notes, and bonds issued by the Treasury Department. They are used to set the rates for all other long-term, fixed-rate bonds.

What are the 5 types of bonds? ›

Types of bonds
  • U.S. government bonds and securities. Governments worldwide sell bonds and securities to print money, fund government spending and services and pay down debt. ...
  • Municipal bonds, or munis. ...
  • International and emerging markets bonds. ...
  • Corporate bonds. ...
  • Bond ETFs. ...
  • Green bonds.
Mar 28, 2023

What are two features of a bond? ›

Two features of a bond—credit quality and time to maturity—are the principal determinants of a bond's coupon rate. If the issuer has a poor credit rating, the risk of default is greater, and these bonds pay more interest. Bonds that have a very long maturity date also usually pay a higher interest rate.

What are the components of a bond? ›

The three basic components of a bond are its maturity, its face value, and its coupon yield.

How do bonds work examples? ›

For example, if a bond is quoted at 99 in the market, the price is $990 for every $1,000 of face value and the bond is said to be trading at a discount. If the bond is trading at 101, it costs $1,010 for every $1,000 of face value and the bond is said to be trading at a premium.

How do you analyze a bond? ›

The most important aspects are the bond's price, its interest rate and yield, its date to maturity, and its redemption features. Analyzing these key components allows you to determine whether a bond is an appropriate investment.

How do bonds pay interest? ›

Both bonds and notes pay interest every six months. The interest rate for a particular security is set at the auction. The price for a bond or a note may be the face value (also called par value) or may be more or less than the face value. The price depends on the yield to maturity and the interest rate.

Are there 4 bonds? ›

The fourth bond (quadruple bond) if formed would be pointing away from the two carbons. In order for this bond to exist, the other three bonds need to be tremendously bent and this is energetically very unfeasible. This strain thus resists the formation of the quadruple bond.

Why do bonds form? ›

Why form chemical bonds? The basic answer is that atoms are trying to reach the most stable (lowest-energy) state that they can. Many atoms become stable when their valence shell is filled with electrons or when they satisfy the octet rule (by having eight valence electrons).

What element has 4 bonds? ›

A: Carbon can form four covalent bonds. Covalent bonds are chemical bonds that form between nonmetals. In a covalent bond, two atoms share a pair of electrons. By forming four covalent bonds, carbon shares four pairs of electrons, thus filling its outer energy level and achieving stability.

What are the risk in bonds? ›

The main risks of investing in bonds include the following:
  • Interest Rate Risk. Rising interest rates are a key risk for bond investors. ...
  • Credit Risk. ...
  • Inflation Risk. ...
  • Reinvestment Risk. ...
  • Liquidity Risk.

What are bonds examples? ›

Examples of bonds include treasuries (the safest bonds, but with a low interest - they are usually sold at auction), treasury bills, treasury notes, savings bonds, agency bonds, municipal bonds, and corporate bonds (which can be among the most risky, depending on the company).

What are the 3 strongest bonds? ›

The three types of chemical bonds in order of weakest to strongest are as follows: ionic bonds, polar covalent bonds, and covalent bonds.

Which bond is the strongest? ›

So, in conclusion the ionic bonds are strongest among ionic, covalent and hydrogen bonds.

What are the properties of a bond? ›

There are three main properties of chemical bonds that must be considered—namely, their strength, length, and polarity. The polarity of a bond is the distribution of electrical charge over the atoms joined by the bond.

What is a bond short answer? ›

A bond is a loan to a company or government. It pays investors a fixed rate of return.

How do you explain bonds to a client? ›

Start by framing the conversation with the basics: Bonds and interest rates have an inverse relationship. When interest rates rise, bond prices generally fall. Explain that, as long as they hold the bond to maturity, they're going to get the full value back.

What is a bond answer? ›

A chemical bond: A chemical bond may be defined as the force of attraction between any two atoms, in a molecule, to form chemical compounds which stabilize the atoms.

What are bonds safer than? ›

Bonds in general are considered less risky than stocks for several reasons: Bonds carry the promise of their issuer to return the face value of the security to the holder at maturity; stocks have no such promise from their issuer.

What is the most safest bond? ›

1. Savings Bonds. These are the safest investment since they're backed by the government and guaranteed not to lose principal.

Which bond is stronger and why? ›

Answer: Ionic bonds are typically far more potent than covalent bonds. Ionic bonds result in a stable composite when all the electrons between the components are transferred. While two elements only share electrons to form a stable molecule in a covalent bond.

Where are the 2 different types of bonds? ›

The two main types of bonds formed between atoms are ionic bonds and covalent bonds. An ionic bond is formed when one atom accepts or donates one or more of its valence electrons to another atom. A covalent bond is formed when atoms share valence electrons.

How many bonds are there? ›

There are four types of bonds or interactions: ionic, covalent, hydrogen bonds, and van der Waals interactions. Ionic and covalent bonds are strong interactions that require a larger energy input to break apart.

How are bonds valued? ›

The price of a bond is determined by discounting the expected cash flows to the present using a discount rate. The three primary influences on bond pricing on the open market are term to maturity, credit quality, and supply and demand.

What are the 4 types of bonds and the definitions of them? ›

There are four types of chemical bonds essential for life to exist: Ionic Bonds, Covalent Bonds, Hydrogen Bonds, and van der Waals interactions. We need all of these different kinds of bonds to play various roles in biochemical interactions. These bonds vary in their strengths.

What is a bond and its features? ›

By Definition, “A Bond is a fixed income instrument that represents a loan made by an investor to a borrower.” In simpler words, bond acts as a contract between the investor and the borrower. Mostly companies and government issue bonds and investors buy those bonds as a savings and security option.

What are the key features of a bond quizlet? ›

  • name of issuer.
  • interest rate and payment date.
  • maturity date.
  • call features.
  • principal amounts.
  • CUSIP number for identification.
  • reference to the bond indenture.

What are the prime features of a bond? ›

There are different kinds of bonds based on these special features: Repayment of principal, Maturity date, Call, Pledge of security, Interest and Covenants.

What are the 4 types of chemical bonds strongest to weakest? ›

Therefore, the order of strength of bonds from the strongest to weakest is; Ionic bond > Covalent bond > Hydrogen bond > Van der Waals interaction. Q. Q.

What are the parts of a bond? ›

The three basic components of a bond are its maturity, its face value, and its coupon yield.

Why are bonds called? ›

An issuer may choose to call a bond when current interest rates drop below the interest rate on the bond. That way the issuer can save money by paying off the bond and issuing another bond at a lower interest rate. This is similar to refinancing the mortgage on your house so you can make lower monthly payments.

Which are two features of a bond? ›

Two features of a bond—credit quality and time to maturity—are the principal determinants of a bond's coupon rate. If the issuer has a poor credit rating, the risk of default is greater, and these bonds pay more interest. Bonds that have a very long maturity date also usually pay a higher interest rate.

What features of a bond are fixed? ›

Fixed-rate bonds generate a constant interest rate. You receive the same amount each year or month, depending on the interest payment schedule. There are also 2 types of floating-rate bonds. The interest rate is either set in advance each year or tied to market rates.

How is bond risk determined? ›

To help measure credit risk, many bonds are rated by independent entities such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's (S&P). Ratings run from Aaa (Moody's) or AAA (S&P) through D (for default), based on the rater's appraisal of the issuer's creditworthiness. Aaa (Moody's) and AAA (S&P) are the highest credit ratings.

Which bonds pay no interest? ›

Zero coupon bonds are fixed income securities that don't pay any interest. At the time of maturity, the investor is paid the face value or par value.


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