Interest Rates and Bond Valuation

What does the classic rock'n'roll album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars have to do with the bond market? More than you might think. Rock star David Bowie, the artist behind the album, rakes in at least $5 million annually from the sale of his records. However, in 1997, Bowie decided that he needed lots of money immediately, so he turned to creative financiers to help him out. His investment bankers set up a trust account into which all of the royalties Bowie receives from the sale of his albums would be placed. Then they created bonds that are to be repaid from the money that flows into the trust account. And investors bought $55 million worth!

This chapter takes what we have learned about the time value of money and shows how it can be used to value one of the most common of all financial assets, a bond. It then discusses bond features, bond types, and the operation of the bond market. What we will see is that bond prices depend critically on interest rates, so we will go on to discuss some very fundamental issues regarding interest rates. Clearly, interest rates are important to everybody because they underlie what businesses of all types—small and large—must pay to borrow money.

Our goal in this chapter is to introduce you to bonds. We begin by showing how the techniques we developed in Chapters 5 and 6 can be applied to bond valuation. From there, we go on to discuss bond features and how bonds are bought and sold. One important thing we learn is that bond values depend, in large part, on interest rates. We therefore close out the chapter with an examination of interest rates and their behavior.

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