zero-coupon bond
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A zero coupon bond (also discount bond or deep discount bond) is a bond in which the
face value The face value, sometimes called nominal value, is the value of a coin A coin is a small, flat (usually depending on the country or value), round piece of metal A metal (from ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "min ...
is repaid at the time of maturity. Unlike regular bonds, it does not make periodic
interest In finance and economics, interest is payment from a debtor, borrower or deposit-taking financial institution to a lender or depositor of an amount above repayment of the principal sum (that is, the amount borrowed), at a particular rate. It is ...

interest
payments or have so-called coupons, hence the term zero-coupon bond. When the bond reaches maturity, its investor receives its par (or face) value. Examples of zero-coupon bonds include US Treasury bills, US savings bonds, long-term zero-coupon bonds, and any type of coupon bond that has been stripped of its coupons. Zero coupon and deep discount bonds are terms that are used interchangeably. In contrast, an investor who has a regular bond receives income from coupon payments, which are made semi-annually or annually. The investor also receives the principal or face value of the investment when the bond matures. Some zero coupon bonds are inflation indexed, and the amount of money that will be paid to the bond holder is calculated to have a set amount of
purchasing power Purchasing power is the amount of goods and services that can be purchased with a unit of currency. For example, if one had taken one unit of currency to a store in the 1950s, it would have been possible to buy a greater number of items than would ...
, rather than a set amount of money, but most zero coupon bonds pay a set amount of money known as the
face value The face value, sometimes called nominal value, is the value of a coin A coin is a small, flat (usually depending on the country or value), round piece of metal A metal (from ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "min ...
of the bond. Zero coupon bonds may be long or short-term investments. Long-term zero coupon
maturity date Maturity or immaturity may refer to: * Adulthood or age of majority * Maturity model ** Capability Maturity Model, in software engineering, a model representing the degree of formality and optimization of processes in an organization * Development ...
s typically start at ten to fifteen years. The bonds can be held until maturity or sold on secondary bond markets. Short-term zero coupon bonds generally have maturities of less than one year and are called bills. The US
Treasury bill United States Treasury securities, also called Treasuries or Treasurys, are government bond, government debt instruments issued by the United States Department of the Treasury to finance government spending as an alternative to taxation. Sin ...
market is the most active and liquid debt market in the world.


Strip bonds

Zero coupon bonds have a duration equal to the bond's time to maturity, which makes them sensitive to any changes in the interest rates. Investment banks or ''dealers'' may separate coupons from the principal of coupon bonds, which is known as the residue, so that different investors may receive the principal and each of the coupon payments. That creates a supply of new zero coupon bonds. The coupons and residue are sold separately to investors. Each of the investments then pays a single lump sum. That method of creating zero coupon bonds is known as ''stripping'', and the contracts are known as strip bonds. "STRIPS" stands for Separate Trading of Registered Interest and Principal Securities. Dealers normally purchase a block of high-quality and non-callable bonds, often government issues, to create strip bonds. A strip bond has no reinvestment risk because the payment to the investor occurs only at maturity. The impact of interest rate fluctuations on strip bonds, known as the
bond duration In finance, the duration of a financial asset that consists of fixed cash flows, such as a Bond (finance), bond, is the weighted average of the times until those fixed cash flows are received. When the price of an asset is considered as a functio ...
, is higher than for a coupon bond. A zero coupon bond always has a duration equal to its maturity, and a coupon bond always has a lower duration. Strip bonds are normally available from investment dealers maturing at terms up to 30 years. For some
Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or all) of these connections exist and are collectively the source of ...
bonds, the maturity may be over 90 years. In Canada, investors may purchase packages of strip bonds, so that the cash flows are tailored to meet their needs in a single security. These packages may consist of a combination of interest (coupon) and/or principal strips. In
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
, bonds are stripped first into two pieces—the coupons and the principal. The coupons may be traded as a unit or further subdivided into the individual payment dates. In most countries, strip bonds are primarily administered by a
central bank A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an institution that manages the currency and monetary policy of a country or monetary union, and oversees their commercial bank, commercial banking system. In contrast to a commercial ba ...
or central securities depository. An alternative form is to use a
custodian bank A custodian bank, or simply custodian, is a specialized financial institution responsible for providing securities services. It safeguards assets of asset managers, insurance companies, hedge funds, and is not engaged in "traditional" commercial ...
or trust company to hold the underlying security and a transfer agent/registrar to track ownership in the strip bonds and to administer the program. Physically created strip bonds (where the coupons are physically clipped and then traded separately) were created in the early days of stripping in Canada and the U.S., but have virtually disappeared due to the high costs and risks associated with them.


Uses

Pension fund A pension fund, also known as a superannuation fund in some countries, is any plan, fund, or scheme which provides pension, retirement income. Pension funds typically have large amounts of money to invest and are the major investors in listed a ...
s and
insurance Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss in which, in exchange for a fee, a party agrees to compensate another party in the event of a certain loss, damage, or injury. It is a form of risk management, primarily used to Hedge ( ...
companies like to own long maturity zero coupon bonds because of their high duration. That means that the bonds' prices are particularly sensitive to changes in the interest rate, and so offset, or
immunize Immunization, or immunisation, is the process by which an individual's immune system becomes fortified against an infectious agent (known as the antigen, immunogen). When this system is exposed to molecules that are foreign to the body, called ...
, the interest rate risk of the firms' long-term liabilities.


Taxes

In the United States, a zero-l coupon bond has original issue discount (OID) for tax purposes. Instruments issued with OID generally impute the receipt of interest, sometimes called phantom income, even though the bonds do not pay periodic interest. Therefore, zero coupon bonds subject to US taxation should generally be held in tax-deferred retirement accounts, to avoid taxes being paid on future income. Alternatively, when a zero coupon bond issued by a US state or local government entity is purchased, the imputed interest is free of U.S. federal taxes and, in most cases, state and local taxes. Zero coupon bonds were first introduced in the 1960s but did not become popular until the 1980s. The use of such instruments was aided by an anomaly in the US tax system, which allowed for deduction of the discount on bonds relative to their par value. The rule ignored the compounding of interest and led to significant tax-savings when the interest is high or the security has long maturity. Although the tax loopholes were closed quickly, the bonds themselves have remained desirable because of their simplicity. In India, the tax on income from deep discount bonds can arise in two ways: interest or capital gains. It is also a law that interest has to be shown on an accrual basis for deep discount bonds issued after February 2002, as per CBDT circular No 2 of 2002, dated 15 February 2002.


References


External links

* {{Authority control Bonds (finance)