What Is Bond Insurance?
Bond insurance is a service whereby issuers of a bond can pay a premium to a third party, who will provide interest and capital repayments as specified in the bond in the event of the failure of the issuer to do so. The effect of this is to raise the rating of the bond to the rating of the insurer; accordingly, a bond insurer's credit rating must be almost perfect.
The premium requested for insurance on a bond is a measure of the perceived risk of failure of the issuer.
The economic value of bond insurance to the governmental unit, agency, or company offering bonds is a saving in interest costs reflecting the difference in yield on an insured bond from that on the same bond if uninsured. Insured securities ranged from municipal bonds and structured finance bonds to collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) domestically and abroad.
National government bonds are almost never insured because governments can print money. In fact, for this reason, securities that are tied to or backed by government bonds are typically considered by ratings agencies to be high grade.
What Does Bond Mean?
A debt investment in which an investor loans money to an entity (corporate or governmental) that borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a fixed interest rate. Bonds are used by companies, municipalities, states and U.S. and foreign governments to finance a variety of projects and activities.
Bonds are commonly referred to as fixed-income securities and are one of the three main asset classes, along with stocks and cash equivalents.
The indebted entity (issuer) issues a bond that states the interest rate (coupon) that will be paid and when the loaned funds (bond principal) are to be returned (maturity date). Interest on bonds is usually paid every six months (semi-annually). The main categories of bonds are corporate bonds, municipal bonds, and U.S. Treasury bonds, notes and bills, which are collectively referred to as simply "Treasuries".
Two features of a bond - credit quality and duration - are the principal determinants of a bond's interest rate. Bond maturities range from a 90-day Treasury bill to a 30-year government bond. Corporate and municipals are typically in the three to 10-year range.
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