A Treasury bond is a long-term fixed-interest instrument issued by the US Treasury Department, and forms part of the range of government securities issued by the US national government.
Treasury bonds, usually referred to as T-bonds, have maturities exceeding 10-years, for example 20 or 30 years. Treasury debt securities with maturities of 1-10 years are referred to as notes. Bond holders receive a semi-annual coupon and the repayment of the principal – also known as the face value – upon maturity.
Treasury bonds are issued in the primary market through auction sales, and are marketable – in other words, they can be traded in the secondary market.
Treasury securities, such as Treasury bonds, Treasury bills, Treasury notes and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, are backed by the US government and are thus considered to be virtually free of credit risk.
Because of their low-risk status, the yield on US Treasuries generally is lower than that offered by other bonds, such as bonds issued by countries with a weaker credit rating than the US, or bonds issued by companies.
Furthermore, the yield on US Treasuries is often treated as a proxy for risk-free interest rates, the theoretical idea of the return on an ideal, perfectly liquid bond that carries no credit risk.