Most people associate the term ‘investments’ with stocks and mutual funds, but Federal bond issues also constitute a major chunk of the overall investments market. The annual turnover of US Federal Bond issues is many times more than that generated by the collective stock markets. Although considered the safest investment options in the US, Federal Bonds are not free from obscurity. The following information will help you understand the basics of these bonds.
How and why they are issued?
The main organization that coordinates Federal bond issues is the Central Bank, which first conducts a market survey to assess the current investment needs of investors. This survey involves consultations with various entities like investment dealers, banks, and other financial organizations that are experienced in handling Federal bond issues. Before introducing the bonds in the market, the Federal government needs to determine their exact purpose, which may be for constructing a new road or bridge, refunding government debt or for funding some other project that is designed to serve national taxpayers or some other federal constituents. In addition, the Federal government has also to determine the legal parameters required by the federal legislation beforehand.
Marketing the bonds
For marketing the bonds, the government can select either a single underwriter or a group of them, based on the size of the bond issue. The government is required to supply copies of a disclosure document that provides bond related information to potential underwriters, to enable them to bid for the issue. For this purpose, the government hires the services of a professional bond counsel firm that looks into the legal aspects of the issue, in consultations with the official government solicitor. Both the counsel firm and the solicitor work together to check the applicability of the bond issues, in relation with federal and state law, and tax approvals. This is done to ensure that proper legal procedures are being followed. The marketing phase of Federal Bond issues usually lasts a week, during which potential underwriters review and evaluate the terms and conditions of the bond issue. This helps them in quoting an appropriate bid amount. This process is eliminated, when the government appoints a single underwriter, based on past relationships with the person. If multiple underwriters are to be appointed, the government allows all interested parties to submit their purchase bids, which includes general terms and conditions, the term of the bond issue, the actual amount of the bonds, interest rates, amortization schedule, and details about prepayment provisions.
Completing documentation requirements
In the final phase of the process of issuing Federal bonds, the appointed underwriter wires the purchase price to the paying agent, who in turn transfers back the cost of issuance according to the terms and conditions. The paying agent is also entrusted with the task of allocating funds to the appropriate parties or projects, depending on the original purpose determined in the initial phases of the Federal bond issue. The counsel firm then prepares the closing documents, a copy of which is sent to all the participants of the issue.
The closing documents are highly technical in nature and you will have to be a law professional to understand the kind of information given in them. These documents are used as a proof that the terms and conditions of the purchase proposal have been fully approved.
The basic information provided above will help you to familiarize yourself with the practical details of Federal Bond issues. By investing a part of your savings in Federal Bond issues, you can hedge against risks that are quite common in other types of investments, such as stocks and derivatives.