What is a bond? The simple answer is that a bond is evidence of a debt and represents a long-term IOU. When you invest in bonds, you are investing in the debt of a government entity or a corporation.
Bonds are issued by federal, state, and local governments; agencies of the U.S. government; and corporations. By selling debt with a promise to pay it back with interest, the issuing agency can raise capital to finance its operations.
The issuing company or government entity will outline how much money it would like to borrow, for what length of time, and the interest it is willing to pay. Investors who buy bonds are lending their money to the issuer and thus become the issuer’s creditors. Bonds are sold at “par” or “face” value, which is the price at which the bond is issued, usually in denominations of $1,000 or $5,000.