Construction: A three-party contract (variously called bid bond, performance bond, or surety bond) in which one party (the surety, usually a bank or insurance company) gives a guaranty to a contractor's customer (obligee) that the contractor (obligor) will fulfill all the conditions of the contract entered into with the obligee. If the obligor fails to perform according to the terms of the contract, the surety pays a sum (agreed upon in the contract and called liquidated damages) to the customer as compensation. A surety bond is not an insurance policy and, if cashed by the obligee, its amount is recovered by the surety from the obligor.
Alternatively, some bonds are sold at a price lower than their par value in lieu of the periodic interest. On maturity the full par value is paid to the bondholder. Bonds are issued in multiples of $1,000, usually for periods of five to twenty years, but some government bonds are issued for only 90 days. Most bonds are negotiable, and are freely traded over stock exchanges. Their market price depends mainly on the rating awarded by bond rating agencies on the basis of issuer's reputation and financial strength. Investment in bonds offers two advantages: (1) known amount of interest income and, unlike other securities, (2) considerable pressure on the company to pay because the penalties for default are drastic. The major disadvantage is that the amount of income is fixed and may be eroded by inflation. Companies use bonds to finance acquisitions or capital investments. Governments use bonds to keep their election promises, fund long-term capital projects, or to raise money for special situations, such as natural calamities or war.
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