Government bond

Page written by AI. Reviewed internally on April 12, 2024.


A government bond, often referred to as a “sovereign bond,” is a debt security issued by a government to raise funds for various purposes, such as financing public projects, covering budget deficits, or managing economic activities.

What are government bonds?

Government bonds are considered one of the safest investment options because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing government.

Key features of government bonds include:

1. Issuer: Government bonds are issued by national governments, such as the government of the United Kingdom or the United States. They can also be issued by local governments or government agencies.

2. Interest payments: When an investor purchases a government bond, they are essentially lending money to the government. In return, the government promises to pay interest to the investor at regular intervals (usually semiannually or annually) until the bond matures.

3. Maturity: Government bonds have a predetermined maturity date when the government repays the principal amount (the initial investment) to the bondholder. Maturities can range from a few months to several decades.

4. Fixed income: Government bonds are a form of fixed-income investment, as they provide a fixed interest rate and predictable cash flow to the bondholder over the life of the bond.

5. Safety and creditworthiness: Government bonds are considered low-risk investments because they are backed by the government’s ability to tax, print money, and raise funds. However, the creditworthiness of different governments can vary, and bonds issued by stable and economically strong countries are generally considered safer.

6. Liquidity: Government bonds are often traded on financial markets, making them relatively liquid investments. Investors can buy and sell government bonds before their maturity date.

7. Types of government bonds: There are various types of government bonds, including treasury bonds, treasury notes, and treasury bills, which differ in terms of maturity and interest payment frequency.

Investors, including individuals, institutional investors, and other governments, purchase government bonds as a way to earn a steady income while minimising the risk associated with investing. Government bonds are also used by central banks for monetary policy purposes and by governments to fund public expenditures.

Example of government bond

Let’s consider a government issuing a 10-year bond with the following details:

  • Face value: £1,000
  • Coupon rate: 3%
  • Maturity date: January 1, 2034

This means that the government is borrowing £1,000 from investors and will pay them annual interest, or “coupon,” of 3% of the face value. The bond matures on January 1, 2034, at which point the government will repay the original £1,000 face value.

  • Annual interest payment: £1,000 × 3% = £30

So, every year, the bondholder will receive an interest payment of £30. At the end of the 10-year period, on January 1, 2034, the government will also return the initial £1,000 to the bondholder.

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