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by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: 2023-06-07T18:07:19+05:30
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The platform where businesses and governments issue different types of debt to investors is called the credit or debt market. Investment-grade bonds, trash bonds, and short-term commercial paper are examples of this financial instrument. The credit market also includes various forms of debt offerings, like securitized obligations and notes, which include credit default swaps (CDS), mortgage-backed securities, and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).

What is the Credit Market?

A credit market, often referred to as a debt market, is a significant financial sector where businesses and governments raise money by selling investors debt instruments. Bonds are the primary commodities traded in this market. The credit market is an essential source of funding in nations like India, where it also ranks as one of the biggest credit markets in Asia. In addition, the credit market in India, as in other nations, functions as a different kind of funding to supplement conventional banking channels. Thus, the terms "what is credit market" and "debt market" are frequently used interchangeably.

Understanding The Credit Market

When a government or entity needs to generate funds, they issue bonds to raise capital. Investors purchase these bonds and, in return, provide a loan to the issuer. The issuer then pays interest on the bonds to an investor. At the bond's maturity date, investors can sell the bonds back at face value to the issuer. Alternatively, investors may sell the bonds to other investors before the maturity date.
The credit market encompasses various aspects, including consumer debts like credit cards, mortgages, and car loans. Dealing with these aspects can be complex. Financial institutions receive payments on bundled debts and often sell them as investments, known as bundled debt securities. Investors who purchase these securities earn interest on their investments. However, if many borrowers default on their loans, the buyer of the bundled debt securities can incur losses.
Two key indicators gauge the credit market's health: prevailing interest rates and investor demand. Analysts closely monitor the difference in interest rates between treasury and corporate bonds. This indicator encompasses both investment-grade bonds and junk bonds.
Treasury bonds typically carry the lowest risk of default and therefore have the lowest interest rates. In contrast, corporate bonds have higher interest rates due to their increased default risk. When the spread between interest rates on these investments widens, it can indicate that investors view corporate bonds as increasingly risky. This can potentially foreshadow an economic downturn or recession.
 

Example of Credit Market

The mortgage market illustrates a credit market. The mortgage market is the purchasing and selling of loans backed by real estate. It allows investors to participate in mortgage-backed securities while enabling people and companies to borrow money to buy or refinance properties.
In the mortgage market, borrowers (homebuyers) go to lenders (such as banks or mortgage firms) for credit in the form of mortgages. When determining a borrower's creditworthiness, lenders consider their income, credit history, and the financed asset’s value. Lenders decide the interest rates, loan size, and other mortgage parameters based on this evaluation.
Lenders can decide whether to hold a mortgage on their books after it has been originated or for selling it in a secondary market. Investors such as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and private investors are represented in the secondary market. These investors buy mortgages from lenders and frequently package and sell the resulting mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to other investors.
The mortgage credit market makes it easier for money from lenders to borrowers, giving people and companies the credit they need to finance real estate transactions. Selling mortgages to investors, who then get interest revenue from the mortgage payments made by borrowers, enables lenders to manage their risk. This market aids in effectively allocating capital in the housing industry, creating liquidity, and increasing credit availability.
 

What Factors Affect the Credit Market?

These are the internal and external elements that impact the credit market.

Internal factors

●    Market liquidity
●    Economic policies of RBI
●    Inflation rate
●    Movement of interest rate 
●    Supply of money
●    Demand for money
●    Issuer's credit quality 
●    Government borrowings 

External Factors

●    Foreign exchange
●    Impact of Global economic situations 
●    Prices of crude oil 
●    Fed rates
●    Economic indicators

The credit market’s health primarily depends on two key indicators: dominant interest rate and investor demand. It is crucial to analyse and assess the interest rate on different types of bonds, such as corporate, treasury, investment-grade, and junk bonds.

Typically, treasury bonds, compared to other bonds, offer a low-interest rate indicating a low default risk related to them. On the other hand, corporate bonds carry high-interest rates, reflecting a higher level of default risk. Therefore, understanding the spread between these bonds’ interest rates is essential for an investor.
When this spread amidst the bond interest rates widens, particularly favouring government bonds over the corporate bonds, it serves as an indicator for an economy. This can indicate that investors perceive corporate bonds as riskier, potentially signalling an economic downturn or recession.
Therefore, closely monitoring the spread between interest rates on different types of bonds provides valuable insights into the state of the credit market and can help investors devise the risk level and make informed decisions.
 

Types of Credit Market

There are two subcategories of the credit market:

●    Government Securities Market

The government securities market is a significant avenue for state and central governments to borrow funds. They issue long-term and short-term securities for raising capital from the general public. These securities are risk-free due to the government's interest payment and principal repayment assurance. Such securities are often referred to as the gilt-edged securities. Consequently, this government securities market is pivotal in all economic systems, representing a significant market for capital transactions. 

●    Corporate Bond Market

The corporate bond market functions similarly to a financial market. The public and private corporations issue debt and bond securities to raise funds. These bonds serve various purposes for companies, such as financing plant construction, acquiring equipment, or expanding their businesses. By selling these bonds to investors, companies obtain the necessary capital. In exchange, the companies make pre-established interest payments to bondholders at a variable or fixed interest rate. Finally, upon bond maturity, the issuer repays the principal amount and interest amount to the investors.
Typically, bonds are initially issued in a primary market as "new issues," where the issuer sells the bonds to investors for raising capital. Subsequently, investors may also engage in secondary market transactions, where existing bonds are bought and sold among investors. This provides investors with the opportunity to trade existing securities.
Corporate bonds generally carry more risk than the government bonds, leading to high-interest rates. The high-quality bond is often called a "Triple-A" (AAA) rated bond. The less creditworthy ones are commonly known as the junk bonds. Investors need to assess the quality of credit of such bonds before making investment decisions.
 

Credit Market vs. Equity Market

The equities market and credit market differ in the following ways.

Feature

Equity Market

Credit Market

Definition

Equity market investment signifies the buyer's ownership in an issuing firm.

Investment simply reveals the buyer's financial interest in a credit market. In this case, the person does not acquire the ownership rights.

Investment instrument

The investors purchase stocks of firms listed on the stock exchange.

Investors purchase debt securities that are issued by governments or corporations.

Ownership

Equities hold capital.

Debt is borrowed capital.

Who may issue

Companies listed with the SEBI

Companies, Government

Regulators

SEBI oversees and regulates the equity market.

In a credit market, well-rated businesses issue debt instruments subject to SEBI regulation. The g-secs, on the other hand, are mainly issued by banks and financial institutions under RBI regulation.

Returns

With increasing market volatility, investors participate in a stock market to earn higher profits.

Investors with a low tolerance for risk are primarily drawn to a credit market. They, therefore, provide investors with smaller returns.

Raising money

Companies can raise capital on the equity market without taking on debt.

By taking on debt through issuing the debt instruments, the credit market enables organisations to raise funds.

Investor status

The investor becomes the company's shareholders, making them part owners.

Investors and bondholders become a corporation's or government's (issuing company) creditors.

Risk

Due to the market volatility, an investor who invests in stocks might lose money.

Since government bonds will be risk-free, there is less danger of losing money while investing in a credit market. Corporate bonds, however, come with a default risk as the corporation might stop making payments. 

 

Who Are the Market Participants in The Credit Market?

The players in a credit market are listed below.

●    Financial institutions
●    Banks
●    Insurance companies
●    Mutual fund houses
●    Primary dealers
●    Corporates
●    Trusts
●    Provident funds
●    Foreign institutional investors (FIIs)
 

Conclusion

A comprehensive understanding of the credit market is crucial as it serves as a primary financing avenue for companies, governments, and municipalities. In fact, the credit market is notably larger than the equity market. Credit rating agencies assist investors by assigning ratings to fixed-income instruments, indicating the risk level associated with the issuer's credit profile. This allows investors to make informed decisions regarding their investment portfolios.

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