In Practice Investment Grade and Junk Bonds

While ratings can range from AAA (safest) to D (in default), a rating at or above BBB by Standard and Poor's (Baa for Moody's) is categorized as investment grade, reflecting the view of the ratings agency that there is relatively little default risk in investing in bonds issued by these firms. Bonds rated below BBB are generally categorized as junk bonds or as high-yield bonds. While it is an arbitrary dividing line, it is an important one for two reasons. First, many investment portfolios are restricted from investing in bonds below investment grade. Thus, the market for investment grade bonds tends to be wider and deeper than that for bonds below that grade. Second, firms that are not rated investment grade have a tougher time when they try to raise new funding and they also pay much higher issuance costs when they do. In fact, until the early 1980s, firms below investment grade often could not issue new bonds. 19 The perception that

19 In the early 1980s, Michael Milken and Drexel Burnham that created the junk bond market, allowing for original issuance of junk bonds. They did this primarily to facilitate hostile takeovers by the raiders of the era.

they are exposed to default risk also creates a host of other costs including tighter supplier credit and debt covenants.

Lessons From The Intelligent Investor

Lessons From The Intelligent Investor

If you're like a lot of people watching the recession unfold, you have likely started to look at your finances under a microscope. Perhaps you have started saving the annual savings rate by people has started to recover a bit.

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