Types of Bonds

While the general idea of a bond is consistent regardless of the situation, there are differences in the classification of bonds. For example, different institutions offer different types of bonds (Government, Corporate, and Municipal). Bonds could also be classified by their function, such as mortgage bonds, which earn their name from how they generate revenue for investors.

Key Information

  • Some of the main types of bonds include federal, corporate, municipal, and mortgage bonds
  • Federal and municipal bonds are both issued by the government and are each tax-advantaged in their own way
  • Corporate bonds are bonds issued by the many public and private corporations in the United States. Each bond has a credit rating based on the issuer's creditworthiness.

Federal Bonds

Federal or government bonds are debt securities issued by a government to raise funds for public spending or to finance budget deficits. When an investor buys a government bond, they are essentially lending money to the government in exchange for a fixed rate of interest over a specified period of time.

The government promises to pay back the principal amount of the bond, known as the face value or par value, at the end of the bond's term, which can range from a few months to several years. In the meantime, the government pays interest to the bondholder at regular intervals, usually semi-annually or annually.

Government bonds are considered one of the safest investments because the likelihood of a government defaulting on its debt is low. In addition, they are highly liquid, meaning that they can be easily bought and sold on financial markets. As a result, government bonds are often used as a benchmark for other types of debt securities and are considered a key component of many investment portfolios.

Corporate Bonds

Corporate bonds are debt securities issued by corporations to raise funds for a variety of purposes, such as financing new projects, expanding operations, or refinancing existing debt. When investors buy corporate bonds, they are essentially lending money to the company in exchange for a fixed rate of interest over a specified period of time.

Unlike government bonds, which are issued by national governments, corporate bonds are issued by private companies. As a result, they typically offer higher interest rates than government bonds to compensate investors for the added risk of default. The creditworthiness of the company issuing the bond is a key factor in determining the interest rate and the risk associated with the bond.

Corporate bonds come in various types and structures, such as secured or unsecured, callable or non-callable, convertible or non-convertible, and high-yield or investment-grade. They can be bought and sold on financial markets, and their prices fluctuate based on changes in interest rates, the creditworthiness of the issuing company, and market demand.

Overall, corporate bonds can be an attractive investment option for investors seeking fixed-income securities with higher yields than government bonds. However, they also carry greater risks than government bonds, such as default risk and liquidity risk, and investors should carefully consider these factors before investing in them.

Municipal Bonds

Municipal bonds, also known as "munis," are debt securities issued by state and local governments, as well as certain government agencies, to finance public projects such as schools, highways, bridges, and hospitals.

When an investor buys a municipal bond, they are essentially lending money to the government entity that issued the bond, in exchange for a fixed rate of interest over a specified period of time. The interest income paid on municipal bonds is generally exempt from federal income tax and, in some cases, state and local income taxes as well, making them a popular investment choice for tax-sensitive investors.

Municipal bonds can be either general obligation bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing government entity, or revenue bonds, which are backed by the revenue generated by a specific project, such as a toll road or a hospital.

Municipal bonds typically offer lower interest rates than corporate bonds because they are considered less risky due to the taxing authority of the government entity. However, they can still carry risks such as interest rate risk, credit risk, and liquidity risk, and investors should carefully consider these factors before investing in them.

Overall, municipal bonds can be a useful addition to a diversified investment portfolio for investors seeking tax-exempt income and relative stability of principal.

Mortgage Bonds

Mortgage bonds, also known as mortgage-backed securities, are debt securities that are collateralized by a pool of mortgages. When a borrower takes out a mortgage to purchase a home, the lender may choose to package that mortgage with other mortgages and sell them to investors as a mortgage bond.

The cash flows from the underlying mortgages, such as principal and interest payments, are used to pay interest to the investors in the mortgage bond. The risk associated with mortgage bonds depends on the creditworthiness of the borrowers in the underlying mortgages, as well as the performance of the real estate market.

Mortgage bonds can be issued by government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as private issuers. The terms of mortgage bonds can vary, depending on the issuer and the characteristics of the underlying mortgages, but they typically have a fixed or adjustable interest rate and a maturity of several years.

Mortgage bonds can offer higher yields than government bonds, but they also carry greater risks such as prepayment risk, credit risk, and interest rate risk. Investors should carefully consider these risks before investing in mortgage bonds.

Overall, mortgage bonds can be a useful addition to a diversified investment portfolio for investors seeking exposure to the real estate market and higher yields than government bonds, but they also carry significant risks and require careful analysis and monitoring.