An agency bond is a type of debt security issued by a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) or a federal agency other than the U.S. Department of the Treasury. These bonds are typically considered to be relatively low-risk investments because they are often backed by the issuing agency, which is either a part of the U.S. government or a government-sponsored entity.

Here are key features and characteristics of agency bonds:

1. **Issuers:**
– **Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs):** Examples of GSEs that issue agency bonds include Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association), Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), and Ginnie Mae (Government National Mortgage Association). These entities play a role in supporting specific sectors of the economy, such as the housing market.

– **Federal Agencies:** Some federal agencies, other than the U.S. Treasury, also issue agency bonds. Examples include the Federal Farm Credit Banks (FFCB), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs).

2. **Purpose:**
– Agency bonds are often issued to fund specific activities or projects related to the mission of the issuing agency. For example, GSEs in the housing market may issue agency bonds to raise funds for purchasing or guaranteeing mortgages.

3. **Security and Backing:**
– While agency bonds are not direct obligations of the U.S. government, they are often considered to have an implicit or explicit government guarantee. This can enhance their creditworthiness and reduce the risk associated with these bonds.

4. **Yield and Interest Payments:**
– Agency bonds typically pay interest, usually semi-annually, and have a fixed or variable interest rate. The yield on agency bonds is influenced by prevailing interest rates in the market.

5. **Marketability:**
– Agency bonds are actively traded in the secondary market, providing investors with liquidity. However, their marketability may vary based on factors such as interest rates, economic conditions, and changes in the financial health of the issuing agency.

6. **Ratings:**
– Agency bonds are often assigned credit ratings by rating agencies to assess their credit risk. While the perceived government backing can contribute to higher credit ratings, investors should consider the financial health of the specific agency issuing the bonds.

7. **Tax Treatment:**
– Interest income from agency bonds is generally exempt from state and local taxes but is subject to federal income tax. Certain agency bonds, such as those issued by Ginnie Mae, may have explicit government guarantees and are considered risk-free for tax purposes.

Investors considering agency bonds should carefully assess the credit risk associated with the issuing agency, monitor interest rate environments, and be aware of the specific terms and conditions of the bonds they are considering. Agency bonds can be suitable for investors seeking a balance between safety and yield in their fixed-income portfolios.