Government And Corporate Bonds

What are bonds and what are the different types available? This article will guide you through the basics.

Most people know about the basics of investing in the stock market but many people are puzzled as to what bonds are. In one word a bond is a loan. The loans can be form the federal government, a federal agency, municipality, or corporation. When you purchase bonds you are lending your money to whomever you buy the bonds from. In return for lending them your money you are paid a fixed rate of interest over a set period of time. When the bond matures the investor's money is usually returned with the earned interest included. Bonds are like stocks because they are both traded. Therefore you can buy the bonds after they are originally issued while at the same time you can sell bonds before they mature. Bond prices are subject to volatility in relation to market conditions.

When a person is issued a bond they are basically promised to get their money back. Bondholders are paid before anyone else, even stockholders and creditors if the company runs into hard times or goes bankrupt. Bonds give you a stream of income based on their rate of return. Bonds are usually much less volatile then stocks are. Bonds also can provide a tax break because municipal and government bonds are sometimes exempt from state and federal taxes.

The main disadvantage to bonds is that they generally have lower returns than stocks and mutual funds. Bonds are like stocks because their prices are sensitive to interest rates as well. Bonds also carry with them some heavy terminology, which can be confusing and hard to understand.

Type of Bonds:

Government Bonds

The U.S. Department of Treasury and other federal agencies issue treasuries and federal agency bonds. Treasuries are basically risk free because the U.S. government backs them. They are issued to help finance all of the costs involved in operating the government. Municipal Bonds - State and local governments to help pay for schools, streets, highways, hospitals, bridges, airports, and other public works issue municipal bonds. You usually don't have to pay federal taxes on the interest earned from municipal bonds.

Corporate Bonds

Corporate bonds are issued by businesses to help pay for business expenses. There are a ton of different corporate bonds available all with their own interest rates, maturities, and credit ratings. Corporate bonds are generally higher risk bonds in comparison to municipal and government bonds. They also have a higher rate of return than municipal and government bonds. However you do have to pay taxes on the interest earned from corporate bonds. Municipal bonds are issued by more than 50,000 state and local governments and their agencies to fund projects such as schools, streets, highways, hospitals, bridges, and airports.

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