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The bond market (also debt market or credit market) is a financial market where participants can issue new debt, known as the primary market, or buy and sell debt securities, known as the secondary market. This is usually in the form of bonds, but it may include notes, bills, and so on.
Its primary goal is to provide long-term funding for public and private expenditures. The bond market has largely been dominated by the United States, which accounts for about 44% of the market. As of 2009, the size of the worldwide bond market (total debt outstanding) is an estimated at $82.2 trillion, of which the size of the outstanding U.S. bond market debt was $31.2 trillion according to Bank for International Settlements (BIS), or alternatively $35.2 trillion as of Q2 2011 according to Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA).
The bond market is part of the credit market, with bank loans forming the other main component. The global credit market in aggregate is about 3 times the size of the global equity market. Bank loans are not securities under the Securities and Exchange Act, but bonds typically are and are therefore more highly regulated. Bonds are typically not secured by collateral (although they can be), and are sold in relatively small denominations of around $1,000 to $10,000. Unlike bank loans, bonds may be held by retail investors. Bonds are more frequently traded than loans, although not as often as equity.
Nearly all of the average daily trading in the U.S. bond market takes place between broker-dealers and large institutions in a decentralized over-the-counter (OTC) market. However, a small number of bonds, primarily corporate ones, are listed on exchanges. Bond trading prices and volumes are reported on FINRA's Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine, or TRACE.
An important part of the bond market is the government bond market, because of its size and liquidity. Government bonds are often used to compare other bonds to measure credit risk. Because of the inverse relationship between bond valuation and interest rates (or yields), the bond market is often used to indicate changes in interest rates or the shape of the yield curve, the measure of "cost of funding". The yield on government bonds in low risk countries such as the United States or Germany is thought to indicate a risk-free rate of default. Other bonds denominated in the same currencies (U.S. Dollars or Euros) will typically have higher yields, in large part because other borrowers are more likely than the U.S. or German Central Governments to default, and the losses to investors in the case of default are expected to be higher. The primary way to default is to not pay in full or not pay on time.
A capital market is a financial market in which long-term debt or equity-backed securities are bought and sold. Capital markets are defined as markets in which money is provided for periods longer than a year. Capital markets channel the wealth of savers to those who can put it to long-term productive use, such as companies or governments making long-term investments.[a] Financial regulators, such as the Bank of England (BoE) or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), oversee the capital markets in their jurisdictions to protect investors against fraud, among other duties.
Modern capital markets are almost invariably hosted on computer-based electronic trading systems; most can be accessed only by entities within the financial sector or the treasury departments of governments and corporations, but some can be accessed directly by the public.[b] There are many thousands of such systems, most serving only small parts of the overall capital markets. Entities hosting the systems include stock exchanges, investment banks, and government departments. Physically the systems are hosted all over the world, though they tend to be concentrated in financial centres like London, New York, and Hong Kong.
A capital market can be either a primary market or a secondary market. In primary markets, new stock or bond issues are sold to investors, often via a mechanism known as underwriting. The main entities seeking to raise long-term funds on the primary capital markets are governments (which may be municipal, local or national) and business enterprises (companies). Governments issue only bonds, whereas companies often issue either equity or bonds. The main entities purchasing the bonds or stock include pension funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and less commonly wealthy individuals and investment banks trading on their own behalf. In the secondary markets, existing securities are sold and bought among investors or traders, usually on an exchange, over-the-counter, or elsewhere. The existence of secondary markets increases the willingness of investors in primary markets, as they know they are likely to be able to swiftly cash out their investments if the need arises.
A second important division falls between the stock markets (for equity securities, also known as shares, where investors acquire ownership of companies) and the bond markets (where investors become creditors).