A Government Security (G-Sec) is a tradable instrument issued by the Central Government or the State Governments. It acknowledges the Government’s debt obligation. Such securities are short term (usually called treasury bills, with original maturities of less than one year) or long term (usually called Government bonds or dated securities with original maturity of one year or more). In India, the Central Government issues both, treasury bills and bonds or dated securities while the State Governments issue only bonds or dated securities, which are called the State Development Loans (SDLs). G-Secs carry practically no risk of default and, hence, are called risk-free gilt-edged instruments.
Why should one invest in G-sec?
Holding of cash in excess of the day-to-day needs (idle funds) does not give any return. Investment in gold has attendant problems in regard to appraising its purity, valuation, warehousing and safe custody, etc. In comparison, investing in G-Secs has the following advantages:
• Besides providing a return in the form of coupons (interest), G-Secs offer the maximum safety as they carry the Sovereign’s commitment for payment of interest and repayment of principal.
• They can be held in book entry, i.e., de-materialised form, thus, eliminating the need for safekeeping. They can also be held in physical form.
• G-Secs are available in a wide range of maturities from 91 days to as long as 40 years to suit the duration of varied liability structure of various institutions.
• G-Secs can be sold easily in the secondary market to meet cash requirements.
• G-Secs can also be used as collateral to borrow funds in the repo market.
• Securities such as State Development Loans (SDLs) and Special Securities (Oil bonds, UDAY bonds etc) provide attractive yields.
• The settlement system for trading in G-Secs, which is based on Delivery versus Payment (DvP), is a very simple, safe and efficient system of settlement. The DvP mechanism ensures transfer of securities by the seller of securities simultaneously with transfer of funds from the buyer of the securities, thereby mitigating the settlement risk.
• G-Sec prices are readily available due to a liquid and active secondary market and a transparent price dissemination mechanism.
• Besides banks, insurance companies and other large investors, smaller investors like Co-operative banks, Regional Rural Banks, Provident Funds are also required to statutory hold G-Secs
What are Open Market Operations (OMOs)?
OMOs are the market operations conducted by the RBI by way of sale/ purchase of G-Secs to/ from the market with an objective to adjust the rupee liquidity conditions in the market on a durable basis. When the RBI feels that there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity. Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, RBI may buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market.
Why does the price of G-Sec change?
The price of a G-Sec, like other financial instruments, keeps fluctuating in the secondary market. The price is determined by demand and supply of the securities. Specifically, the prices of G-Secs are influenced by the level and changes in interest rates in the economy and other macro-economic factors, such as, expected rate of inflation, liquidity in the market, etc. Developments in other markets like money, foreign exchange, credit, commodity and capital markets also affect the price of the G-Secs. Further, developments in international bond markets, specifically the US Treasuries affect prices of G-Secs in India. Policy actions by RBI (e.g., announcements regarding changes in policy interest rates like Repo Rate, Cash Reserve Ratio, Open Market Operations, etc.) also affect the prices of G-Secs.
What is the relationship between yield and price of a bond?
If market interest rate levels rise, the price of a bond falls. Conversely, if interest rates or market yields decline, the price of the bond rises. In other words, the yield of a bond is inversely related to its price. The relationship between yield to maturity and coupon rate of bond may be stated as follows:
When the market price of the bond is less than the face value, i.e., the bond sells at a discount, YTM > > coupon yield.
When the market price of the bond is more than its face value, i.e., the bond sells at a premium, coupon yield > > YTM.
When the market price of the bond is equal to its face value, i.e., the bond sells at par, YTM = coupon yield.