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Bonding Experience

Everything you ever wanted to know about municipal bonds and what they can do for your portfolio in one handy site.
2 min read

This story appears in the October 1999 issue of Subscribe »

Interested in investing some of your earnings in the municipal bond market, but don't have a clue about how to get started? In the ever-changing world of free Internet services, Bonds Online makes sense of this huge market, helping prospective investors find out what's available, what bonds are worth, how to calculate the prices of bonds and whether investing is worth the effort.

Municipal bonds are issued by state and local governments to underwrite public projects, and their earnings are usually free from federal, state and local taxes, provided you invest in bonds issued by your specific municipal interest. Safe as T-bills and more powerful than Internet IPOs, munis are popular investment tools for many small-business owners and individual investors.

Mercer Island, Washington-based Bonds Online provides individual investors with access to information to address these issues. The municipal securities market is very localized, consisting of 1.5 million issues sold by 50,000 municipal issuers with a wide range of credit ratings, and traded and underwritten by as many as 2,000 securities dealers. By comparison, this represents many times the number of issues listed on all U.S. stock exchanges. Individuals, either investing directly or through bond funds, are the largest group holding these securities.

Published by 21st Century Municipals Inc., an online fixed-income information-services company, Bonds Online brings together many sources that supply information to the professionals.

The site offers professional advice in its Q&A section, Bond Professor, as well as special sections addressing investment basics, bond basics, bond rating definitions, an investors' Bill of Rights and a guide to selecting a broker. The most popular feature is the Bond Search service, which indexes 12,000 current bonds of all types.

According to Bonds Online president David Landes, "An educated investor is a better investor."

Kurt Samson is a freelance business writer and public relations consultant in Annapolis, Maryland.

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