In finance, a bond is an instrument of indebtedness of the bond issuer to the holders. It is a debt security, under which the issuer owes the holders a debt and, depending on the terms of the bond, is obliged to pay them interest (the coupon) and/or to repay the principal at a later date, termed the maturity date. Interest is usually payable at fixed intervals (semiannual, annual, sometimes monthly). Very often the bond is negotiable, i.e. the ownership of the instrument can be transferred in the secondary market.
Bonds are a form of debt. Bonds are loans, but you serve as the bank. You loan your money to a company, a city, the government – and they promise to pay you back in full, with regular interest payments. A city may sell bonds to raise money to build a bridge, while the federal government issues bonds to finance its spiraling debts.
Thus a bond is a form of loan or IOU: the holder of the bond is the lender (creditor), the issuer of the bond is the borrower (debtor), and the coupon is the interest. Bonds provide the borrower with external funds to finance long-term investments, or, in the case of government bonds, to finance current expenditure. Certificates of deposit (CDs) or short term commercial paper are considered to be money market instruments and not bonds: the main difference is in the length of the term of the instrument.
A bond from the w:en:Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie), dating from 7 November 1622, for the amount of 2,400 florins; written out and authorized in Middelburg, but signed in Amsterdam. On the name of Jacop van Necq Source: http://www.tschoepe.de/auktion51/auktion51.htm
2 What is the Bond Market?
The bond market (also debt market or credit market) is a financial market where participants can issue new debt, known as the primary market, or buy and sell debt securities, known as the secondary market. The environment in which the issuance and trading of debt securities occurs. The bond market primarily includes government-issued securities and corporate debt securities, and facilitates the transfer of capital from savers to the issuers or organizations requiring capital for government projects, business expansions and ongoing operations.
The primary goal of the bond market is to provide a mechanism for long term funding of public and private expenditures. Traditionally, the bond market was largely dominated by the United States, but today the US is about 44% of the market. As of 2009, the size of the worldwide bond market (total debt outstanding) is an estimated $82.2 trillion, of which the size of the outstanding U.S. bond market debt was $31.2 trillion according to Bank for International Settlements (BIS), or alternatively $35.2 trillion as of Q2 2011 according to Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association(SIFMA).
Nearly all of the $822 billion average daily trading volume in the U.S. bond market takes place between broker-dealers and large institutions in a decentralized, over-the-counter (OTC) market. However, a small number of bonds, primarily corporate, are listed on exchanges.
Bond Market Volatility
For market participants who own a bond, collect the coupon and hold it to maturity, market volatility is irrelevant; principal and interest are received according to a pre-determined schedule.
But participants who buy and sell bonds before maturity are exposed to many risks, most importantly changes in interest rates. When interest rates increase, the value of existing bonds falls, since new issues pay a higher yield. Likewise, when interest rates decrease, the value of existing bonds rises, since new issues pay a lower yield. This is the fundamental concept of bond market volatility: changes in bond prices are inverse to changes in interest rates. Fluctuating interest rates are part of a country's monetary policy and bond market volatility is a response to expected monetary policy and economic changes.
Most trading in the bond market occurs over-the-counter, through organized electronic trading networks, and is composed of the primary market (through which debt securities are issued and sold by borrowers to lenders) and the secondary market (through which investors buy and sell previously issued debt securities amongst themselves). Although the stock market often commands more media attention, the bond market is actually many times bigger and is vital to the ongoing operation of the public and private sector.