What Exactly is a Bond in Jail?

Summary:Learn what a bond in jail is and how it happens. Discover how investors can protect themselves from this risk.

What Exactly is a Bond in Jail? A Comprehensive Guide

Bonds are a common investment tool, but what happens when a bond issuer defaults on their payments? This is where the term "bond in jail" comes into play. In this article, we will explore what a bond in jail is, how it happens, and what investors can do to protect themselves.

What is a bond?

First, let's define what a bond is. A bond is a debt security that is issued by a company, government, or other entity to raise capital. When an investor buys a bond, they are essentially lending money to the issuer in exchange for regular interest payments and the promise of the return of their principal investment at a specified future date.

What is a bond in jail?

A bond in jail refers to a bond that has been downgraded to below investment grade, also known asjunk status. This downgrade occurs when the issuer's credit rating falls due to financial distress or other reasons. When a bond is in jail, it means that the issuer is unable to make interest payments to bondholders.

Why do bonds end up in jail?

Bonds can end up in jail for a variety of reasons. One common reason is when the issuer experiences financial difficulties, such as a decline in revenue or an increase in debt. This can lead to a downgrade in the issuer's credit rating, which can trigger a bond in jail status.

Another reason a bond may end up in jail is due to external factors, such as a recession or market downturn. When investors become more risk-averse, they may sell their holdings in lower-rated bonds, causing the bond's price to drop and its yield to rise. This can make it more difficult for the issuer to make interest payments, leading to a bond in jail status.

What happens to investors when a bond is in jail?

When a bond is in jail, investors may not receive interest payments or receive a reduced payment. In some cases, the issuer may default on the bond entirely, resulting in a loss of the principal investment. This can be particularly devastating for retired individuals who rely on fixed-income investments to fund their living expenses.

How can investors protect themselves?

Investors can protect themselves from a bond in jail by diversifying their portfolio and investing in higher-rated bonds. They can also monitor thecredit ratingsof their bond investments and stay informed about any changes to the issuer's financial health. In addition, investors may consider purchasing bond insurance or investing in a bond fund that employsrisk managementstrategies.


A bond in jail is a bond that has been downgraded to junk status and is unable to make interest payments. Investors can protect themselves from this risk by diversifying their portfolio, monitoring credit ratings, and investing in higher-rated bonds. While bonds can be a valuable investment tool, it is important to understand the risks involved and take steps to mitigate them.

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