A bond is a negotiable debt instrument, while stock is a negotiable instrument of ownership—companies, governments, or organizations that borrow money issue debt securities in return: bonds. A lender may decide to sell a debt instrument to another person who acquires the right to the interest payments and the principal invested.
Most bonds have a fixed interest rate. This interest is called a ‘coupon.’ Most bonds have a specific maturity. At the end of this term, it must repay the principal. Short-term bonds usually must be repaid within four years; bonds usually after four to twelve years. Long-standing bonds can have a ripeness of thirty years or even more, but such cases would be rare.
Of course, not all governments are equally stable. Therefore, government bonds from emerging countries and European peripheral markets can be riskier than those from developed countries such as the US, Japan, and the UK. Other countries’ governments are safe because they have time to cash them back, have nothing to do with the global economy, and are not at any risk; they are just like cash in different types.
When a company needs capital, it can issue bonds. The risks associated with corporate bonds depend on the company’s overall health. This is expressed in the bond rating. We’ll go into that later in this article.
What is the bond market, and how can you invest in bonds?
Investors can take advantage of opportunities in the stock or bond market. These markets are places where stocks and bonds are sold or issued. Investors usually buy their bonds through a bank or broker. You typically must put in a high minimum amount when you buy bonds. This puts some investors off.
But you can suffice with a lower investment if you buy bonds through a bond fund or ETF (exchange-traded fund). In addition, a fund or ETF contains several bonds, allowing you to diversify your investment. Therefore, investing in a fund or ETF involves less risk than buying bonds from just one entity.
What are the benefits and risks of bonds?
The main advantage of bonds is that they are generally less risky than stocks. Bonds pay a fixed interest rate, while stocks increase in value as the value of a company grows. In a bankruptcy, a company must first repay the bondholders and creditors, only the shareholders. This lower risk also has a downside: because bonds have a lower risk premium, the expected long-term return is lower than equities. That means that when a company performs well, the bond return is likely lower than the stock return.
This is the risk that the issuer will not repay the principal (or part of it) invested and that the coupons (interest) will not be paid. It is often said that government bonds have a lower credit risk than corporate bonds. That’s because governments can raise taxes when they need more money—however, numerous examples of governments that did not (entirely) repay their bonds in the past. In emerging markets, the credit risk is significantly higher.
The value of a bond with a fixed coupon (fixed interest rate) moves opposite the market interest rate. The reason is that when market interest rates rise, investors can buy new bonds with a higher coupon. As a result, bonds already issued with a lower voucher automatically become worthless. On the other hand, the value of a fixed-rate bond rises when the market interest rate falls.About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud platform where their QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools are hosted in an efficient SSO environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.