What Is a Treasury Receipt?
A treasury receipt is a type of zero-coupon bond, which means that the investor does not receive any interest payments. Instead, the investor buys the receipt at a discount and gets the full value of the bond at maturity. These receipts are not U.S. Treasury bonds but are sold by brokerages and are collateralized by U.S. Treasury bonds.
Investors can obtain Treasury Receipts, a unique bond variant, by purchasing them at a reduced cost. On the maturity date, these bonds can be redeemed at their full face value. Unlike conventional bonds, Treasury Receipts do not offer periodic interest payments. Brokerage firms issue Treasury Receipts, which are backed by U.S. government securities. The U.S. Treasury itself also issues zero-coupon bonds.
Exploring Treasury Receipts
Bonds, whether corporate or governmental, represent investments in debt. Entities issue bonds to finance various projects, short or long-term, while investors receive returns, typically in the form of periodic interest payments. The familiar bond for individual investors offers regular interest payments until it reaches maturity, returning the principal investment. It's a popular choice among retirees looking for supplemental income.
Treasury Receipts, however, diverge from this pattern. Brokerages purchase substantial quantities of U.S. Treasury bonds and divide them into distinct components: principal and interest payments. They offer principal payments to investors at a discount, redeemable at full value upon maturity. The interest payments are sold to other investors. In essence, Treasury Receipts evolve from U.S. Treasury bonds into instruments supported by them.
Zero-Coupon Bonds: A Bond Market Phenomenon
Within the bond market, zero-coupon bonds, also known as Treasury Receipts, exhibit significant price volatility driven by fluctuations in overall interest rates, influencing their attractiveness to traders. Typically, these bonds are sold at a substantial discount, with redemption occurring at "par" or face value upon maturity.
Since 1986, the U.S. Treasury Department has actively issued zero-coupon bonds, rendering various Treasury Receipt types, including STRIPS, CATS, TIGRs, and COUGRs, somewhat outdated. The Treasury Department's issuance of zero-coupon bonds in 1986 largely rendered these acronym-laden options obsolete.
How Do They Work?
In essence, Treasury securities operate through a receipt system. When a brokerage or individual acquires a Treasury security, the U.S. Treasury registers ownership within its database. Rather than receiving a traditional bond certificate as proof of purchase, the brokerage gets a transaction receipt. Subsequently, the brokerage divides the bond into two distinct securities, one for interest payment and one for principal payment, with both securities referencing the original receipt.
Treasury Receipts offer a unique investment opportunity with no regular interest payments. Investors purchase them at a discount and receive the full value at maturity. They are not U.S. Treasury bonds but are backed by them, providing an alternative investment path.