Bond Markets Cocktail Party Trivia

HFA Partners  |  August 2, 2013

Always wondered how large the bond markets really are but were afraid to ask? Here is some trivia we compiled on municipal and healthcare debt markets to help you shine at your next finance committee or cocktail party. In a nutshell, bond markets are big.


  • Fact #1:
    There are $3.7 trillion of tax-exempt bonds out there in over 1 million different bond issues. That’s twice the 2003 amount.

  • Fact #2:
    State and local governments owe 93% of all municipal bonds outstanding. Not-for-profit borrowers owe the balance.

  • Fact #3:
    In 2012, more than half of all municipal bonds sold went to refund existing debt.

  • Fact #4:
    In the last 3 years, private placements of municipal debt have grown by more than 300%.

  • Fact #5:
    In the last 10 years, healthcare providers sold $390 billion worth of bonds or 10% of all municipal debt.

  • Fact #6:
    In 1975, banks owned half of all muni bonds.

  • Fact #7:
    In 2013, banks own 10% of all muni bonds. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 took away much of the tax benefits.

  • Fact #8:
    The largest holders of municipal bonds today are households; they directly own 50% of all bonds. Another 25% is held by funds, which includes indirect holdings by individuals aka “back door retail”.

  • Fact #9:
    Tax-exempt “A” rated yields reached an all-time high of more than 14% in 1981. Today, an “A” rated hospital can borrow at less than half of that rate.

  • Fact #10:
    The SIFMA weekly index reached a record 8% in September 2008. Today, SIFMA is trading at less than 0.1%.


This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For legal issues, readers should consult legal counsel. To discuss this article or municipal advisory services, email info@hfapartners.com or call 888-699-4830. HFA Partners, LLC is an Independent Registered Municipal Advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.
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