Bonds are lower-risk and lower-return investments than stocks, which makes them an essential component of a balanced investment portfolio, especially for older or more conservative investors.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • What’s the difference between Treasury bonds, notes, and bills?
    Treasury bonds, notes, and bills are all fixed-income securities issued by the U.S. Treasury. The primary difference between them is their maturity dates and the frequency of interest payments. Treasury bills have the shortest maturities, ranging from four weeks to one year, and they only pay interest when they mature. Treasury notes are issued with maturities ranging from two to 10 years, and pay interest every six months. And Treasury bonds mature in either 20 or 30 years, also paying interest every six months.
  • Can inverted yield curves predict recessions?
    An inverted yield curve is widely considered one of the most reliable indicators of an impending recession. An inverted yield curve has preceded every U.S. recession since 1955 with only one false alarm. Though the inverted yield curve observed in 2019, which preceded the short recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, should hardly be interpreted as a predictor of that recession.
  • Why are bond prices and yields negatively correlated?
    Bond yields move in the opposite direction of prices because the bond’s coupon rate is fixed but the appeal of that bond and its coupon rate on the secondary market changes with economic conditions. If interest rates rise, bonds issued with lower coupon rates become less attractive to potential buyers, who could get a higher rate of return on a new bond. Subsequently, the bond’s price declines. An investor who buys that bond at a discount will receive coupon payments on the bond’s face value, not its market value, meaning their return will be greater than the official coupon rate. Yields decrease as bond prices rise for the same reason.
  • How do I cash in my U.S. Savings Bond?
    You can cash in most paper U.S. Savings Bond at a bank or credit union. The exception is Series HH bonds, which were discontinued in 2004. These need to be mailed to Treasury Retail Securities Services with a specific form. Electronic bonds can be cashed in online at Treasury Direct, which will transfer the proceeds to your checking or savings account within a couple of days.
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