Bonds

A bond is a debt instrument issued for a period of more than one year with the purpose of raising capital by borrowing. The Federal government, states, cities, corporations, and many other types of institutions sell bonds. Generally, a bond is a promise to repay the principal along with interest (coupons) on a specified date (maturity). Some bonds do not pay interest, but all bonds require a repayment of principal. When an investor buys a bond, he/she becomes a creditor of the issuer. However, the buyer does not gain any kind of ownership rights to the issuer, unlike in the case of equities. On the hand, a bondholder has a greater claim on an issuer's income than a shareholder in the case of financial distress (this is true for all creditors). Bonds are often divided into different categories based on tax status, credit quality, issuer type, maturity and secured/unsecured (and there are several other ways to classify bonds as well). U.S. Treasury bonds are generally considered the safest unsecured bonds, since the possibility of the Treasury defaulting on payments is almost zero. The yield from a bond is made up of three components: coupon interest, capital gains and interest on interest (if a bond pays no coupon interest, the only yield will be capital gains). A bond might be sold at above or below par (the amount paid out at maturity), but the market price will approach par value as the bond approaches maturity. A riskier bond has to provide a higher payout to compensate for that additional risk. Some bonds are tax-exempt, and these are typically issued by municipal, county or state governments, whose interest payments are not subject to federal income tax, and sometimes also state or local income tax.

What is a Brady bond?

Brady bonds are issued by emerging countries under a debt-reduction plan named after former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady. It is an U.S. dollar-denominated bond issued by an emerging market, particularly those in Latin America, and collateralized by U.S. Treasury zero-coupon bonds. Brady bonds arose from an effort in the 1980s to reduce the debt held by less-developed countries that were frequently defaulting on loans. The bonds are named for Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, who helped international monetary organizations institute the program of debt-reduction. Defaulted loans were converted into bonds with U.S. zero-coupon Treasury bonds as collateral. Because the Brady bonds were backed by zero-coupon bonds, repayment of principal was insured. The Brady bonds themselves are coupon-bearing bonds with a variety of rate options (fixed, variable, step, etc.) with maturities of between 10 and 30 years. Issued at par or at a discount, Brady bonds often included warrants for raw materials available in the country of origin or other options. Brady bonds were set up in association with the IMF and World Bank to sponsor the restructuring of outstanding sovereign loans and interest arrears into liquid debt instruments.

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