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Investing in Bonds: What does that mean?

Investing in bonds is different from investing in stocks. Stocks represent ownership in a company. But bonds represent loanership. In other words, bondholders are loaning the company or government entity money for a fixed period of time. And in return, bondholders receive interest during the period in which they own the bond and the face amount is eventually returned at maturity.

Bonds play several important roles in a diversified portfolio. They provide income generation, capital preservation, portfolio stability, inflation protection, tax advantages, and liquidity. However, they are subject to interest rate risks, often described by their inverse relationship with interest rates: as rates rise, the prices of existing bonds with lower interest rates generally fall, and vice versa. And subject to credit risks. Based on the credit-worthiness of the borrower, the chances of getting your money back is higher with a high AAA rating (i.e., investment grade) vs a low B or C rating (i.e., speculative grade).

Exploring Different Types of Bonds:

  1. Government Bonds: The US Treasury issues a variety of bonds with maturities ranging from the very short-term (1-12 months known as T-Bills) to intermediate term (2 to 7 year Notes) and long term (10 to 30 year Bonds).
  2. Corporate Bonds: These are issued by corporations and are a legal obligation of the company. Corporate issues will generally offer a higher rate of interest than government bonds as they can be subject to the risk of default unlike the government.
  3. Municipal Bonds: These are issued primarily by state and local governments to raise money for a general or specific project. Ideal for those in higher tax brackets, particularly in states like California and New York, municipal bonds offer income exempt from federal and sometimes state and local taxes.
  4. Foreign Bonds: Also known as international or sovereign bonds, are debt securities issued by foreign governments or entities outside of one’s own country. These bonds are typically denominated in the currency of the issuing country. Can be segmented into either developed and developing countries based on the level of economic development, stability and risk.
  5. High Yield Bonds: Colloquially referred to as “junk bonds” are corporate bonds issued by companies that have lower credit ratings compared to investment-grade bonds. These bonds typically offer high yields to compensate investors for the increased risk of default.
  6. Agency Bonds: These bonds are not directly issued or guaranteed by the US government but are backed by the issuing agency’s ability to repay the debt. Government sponsored, federally chartered and privately owned corporations (aka GSEs) such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie May dominate this space.
  7. Inflation protected Bonds: Also known as TIPS (treasury inflation protected securities) are a type of US Treasury bond designed to protect investors against inflation. By adjusting the principal value and interest payments for inflation, these bondss provide investors with a hedge against the loss of purchasing power.
  8. Bond Funds: These vehicles pool together money from investors to invest in a diverified portfolio of bonds. It can be in the form of mutual funds or exchange traded funds. They offer flexibility and diversity, reducing credit risk by spreading it across numerous issuers and providing professional management to navigate interest rate changes. However, unlike individual bonds that typically mature at face value, bond fund values fluctuate with interest rates.


The specific allocation of bonds within a portfolio should be based on factors such as investment objectives, risk tolerance, time horizon, and market conditions. By including bonds as part of a well-diversified investment strategy, investors can build a more resilient portfolio capable of weathering various market conditions and achieving their long-term financial goals.

Consult with an experienced financial planner or investment advisor when evaluating if a particular strategy is appropriate and suitable for you.