If you follow the financial markets even peripherally, you know that one of the most closely watched is the bond market, especially the movement in the price and yield of the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond. Often called the long bond, it’s considered a benchmark security, and is used to set long-term rates on everything from home mortgages to credit cards.
U.S. government securities-commonly referred to as Treasuries-are issued by the federal government to finance its operations and are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. In addition to the long bond, the government issues debt securities maturing at various times. Here is a brief list:
- Treasury bills. Also called T-bills, these are short-term instruments maturing in 13, 26 or 52 weeks. They’re sold at a discount, in denominations of $10,000, with multiples of $5,000 above that level. Because they mature in one year or less, T-bills are the federal government’s equivalent of money market instruments.
- Treasury notes. Notes mature between two and 10 years from the date of issue. Denominations are $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, $100,000 and $1 million. Interest rates on notes are set by competitive-bid auction and interest is paid semiannually.
- Treasury bonds. These are the longest-term securities, maturing in 10 years or more. Bonds are sold in denominations of $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, $100,000 and $1 million. The 30-year bond cited in market wrap-up stories in newspapers is also referred to as the “current on-the-run coupon,” since it is the one most recently auctioned by the government.
To find out more about Treasuries and the bond market in general, go to the Bond Market Association’s Website (www.investinginbonds.com).