What Are Government Bonds


What are government bonds? A government bond or government debt is a financial instrument of debt issued by a sovereign government to finance government spending. It typically includes a legal commitment to repay the full face value of the bond, called principal payment, plus interest, known as coupon payment. The interest rate is usually fixed and usually paid monthly in “free and clear” installments.

Definition of Government Bonds

  • A bond, also known as sovereign bond, is a legal financial instrument issued by a sovereign government to finance government spending. In general, it includes a promise to repay the full face value of the bond, plus interest, on the maturity date, called coupon payment dates.
  • A government bond or sovereign debt is a financial instrument issued by a sovereign state to finance governmental spending.

When a government makes a bond purchase

It issues first a security, known as a government bond, then followed by stock in the issuing government. Stock in the government is what bonds are traded in. Bonds typically are traded on U.S. exchanges like the NASDAQ, NYSE, and FTSE. Some government bonds are traded outside of the United States on foreign exchanges. These include municipal, corporate, and other bonds.

The purpose of issuing government bonds is to finance the cost of governmental services and programs. They are generally long-term investments that are not intended to be repaid until a certain amount of time has passed. This ensures that the federal government will have a firm and steady source of funds to finance its activities through the years. For example, the U.S. government routinely spends about 3 trillion dollars per year on everything from defense to medical benefits. Even with continued economic growth and a large inflow of tourists to the country, the government’s total budget will always be constrained by the need to borrow.

A bond normally will be secure (the likelihood of recovery of the issuer from defaults is high) and rated above “investment grade.” But there is more to this classification than meets the eye: bonds carry “market risk,” which can vary significantly from security to security. For example, corporate bonds carried by publicly held companies are valued by what economists call a “bond market.” This is basically the degree of risk that the issuer or the company faces if it fails to meet its financial obligations.

What are government debt loans?

Bonds issued by the government carry interest as an obligation to the government, a creditor, or both. When the issuer decides to repay its obligations, it pays the appropriate amount to the Treasury Department who then pays interest on the government debt from the Federal Reserve. Federal reserve banks to purchase government debt to support the operations of the federal government in case of an emergency.

Since the federal government is the largest borrower of the U.S. Treasury Department, any time there is a need to increase its borrowing capacity, interest rates on government debt are also affected. That’s why inflation is a key concern for any government official thinking about issuing more debt. When the federal government goes into a recession and its ability to make interest payments on its debts increases, the level of inflation rises as well. Consequently, bonds selling off in the secondary market become more difficult, thereby impacting the level of federal government debt. To keep inflation at manageable levels, the federal government keeps buying debt.

How do investors make money on government bonds?

The bond market is a complex place where many different strategies can be used to profit from the rising or falling prices. One strategy is called arbitrage. Arbitrageurs buy a bond and try to profit from both the price increase and the decrease in price. Another strategy called spot pricing applies when a particular government bonds’ issue date is chosen. When this date comes around, investors who bought the bond already know how much it will cost them at the current market rate and then they wait for the date to be announced again in the media and in bond markets.

Since the bond market is so complicated, experienced investors usually hire financial managers instead of relying on guesswork or investing on their own. Some investors still buy bonds on their own, especially since the market is so volatile and unpredictable. However, even with the help of a manager or investment advisor bond prices can fluctuate wildly from time to time.