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Investment 101: Understanding the difference between bond and equity

Welcome to Investment 101, a compass in the vast ocean of finance. Today’s voyage of discovery explores two fundamental concepts in investing – bonds and equities.  These terms are often spoken but seldom comprehended, and they form the basis for investment portfolios.  But why are they so different? How do they function? And most importantly, how can understanding the difference between bond and equity empower informed investment decisions? 

This journey delves into these questions, unraveling the intricacies of bonds and equities, and illuminating the path to successful investing. It also discusses various examples of bonds and equities for deeper understanding. A revealing adventure into the financial sector is about to begin.

What are bonds?

An investor lends money to a borrower, typically a government agency or a private company, in the form of bonds. When you buy a bond, you lend money to the issuer, who promises interest and repayment on a specific date.

Those who invest in bonds do so with the expectation of receiving periodic payments. When purchasing a bond, investors agree to receive interest payments at a specific rate.

There are various types of bonds, including U.S. Treasuries, municipal bonds, investment-grade corporate bonds, and mortgage-backed securities. Each type has unique characteristics and advantages, making due diligence essential before investing.

What are equities?

Equities, which can be transcribed as shares or stocks, denote a financial investment in a business. Purchasing a share of a corporation is the basic idea behind investing in stocks and other forms of equity. If the stock price rises or if there are capital gains, this investment can be profitable.

Equities come in many forms, including preferred and ordinary stocks. Common stock allows shareholders to vote and pay dividends when companies make sufficient money, while preferred stock pays fixed dividends. 

Gains from investing in stocks and other equity-based investments are not without risk, though. Several factors, such as the performance and general market conditions, can affect the value of stocks.

Difference between bond and equity

TypesGovernment bonds, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, asset-backed securitiesOrdinary shares, preference shares, bonus shares, sweat equity, employee stock options (ESOPs)
Return typeFixed income. A bond’s interest rate is predetermined, with regular payments.The capital appreciation of the stock is the primary return expectation of investors, followed by dividends
RiskInvesting with a low degree of risk, but not zero. Among all risks, interest rate risk is the most prevalent.Investing in this manner is far riskier than bond investing due to the lack of guaranteed returns.
Income generationBonds generate income through regular interest paymentsEquities generate income through dividends and capital appreciation

Case studies

To grasp the distinction between bonds and stocks, it is helpful to look at real-life examples that show how each type of investment can be risky or rewarding.

Bond Investments 

Consider the case of Lehman Brothers’ bonds. During the 2008 financial crisis, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers led to a significant drop in the price of its bonds. This highlighted the risk associated with corporate bonds.

Another notable example is, in September 2023, JP Morgan Chase & Co. became the first global index provider to include Indian bonds on its emerging market index. More international bond investments, a stronger rupee, and a better credit rating for India were all anticipated outcomes of this inclusion. The inclusion was phased over 10 months till March 31, 2025. As a result, India saw billions of dollars of inflows, which benefited the investors.

Equity Investments 

A notable example is Amazon.com Inc. Amazon’s stock price has grown exponentially since its IPO in 1997. An investment of $1,000 in Amazon at that time would be worth more than $1 million today.

Now, let us analyse the IL&FS situation in India. The significant liquidity crisis that followed the 2018 collapse of IL&FS led to an increase in borrowing costs for Indian corporations. Credit rating downgrades and a series of defaults followed. The consequences that investors encountered because of not diversifying their portfolios and relying too much on one entity were highlighted by this case, which occurred in the Indian bond market.

These real-world examples illustrate the potential returns and risks associated with bond and equity investments. While bonds can provide a steady income stream and are considered lower risk, they can still be impacted by events like corporate bankruptcy. On the other hand, equities can offer substantial returns but come with higher risk and volatility.


This article takes you on a journey through the financial landscape, focusing on two key players – bonds and equities. It is like a backstage pass, giving you a peek into what these investment instruments are, how they work, and what sets them apart. Real-life examples bring these concepts to life, showing how they play out in the real world. The goal? To give you the knowledge that’s necessary to navigate an investing world with confidence. Happy investing!


What is the difference between bonds and equity stocks?

To put it simply, bonds are like lending money to a business or the government, whereas stocks are more like owning a tiny piece of a corporation. The difference in how they generate income is another key distinction. Bonds pay a fixed interest rate over time, while equities rely on appreciation in value.

Why bond is better than equity?

To begin, the interest that an investor can expect to receive from a bond is usually predetermined, and the yield that an investor can expect to earn from a bond that is held to maturity is also known. However, a stock’s return is directly proportional to the company’s success.

Are bonds safe if the market crashes?

Your bond investments are unlikely to suffer significant losses in the event of a stock market meltdown. Nevertheless, companies that have been severely impacted by the recession can find it challenging to repay their bonds.

Is equity more risky than bonds?

Yes, when compared to bonds and money markets, the risks associated with investing in equities and real estate are typically higher. They also offer the possibility of higher returns, so it’s up to investors to weigh the pros and cons of each option before deciding how to allocate their capital.

Do bonds pay dividends?

Interests are sometimes referred to as dividends in the case of bond funds. Dividends paid out by bond funds are usually a combination of interest payments made on the underlying assets and periodic gains in value. Compared to certificates of deposit and money market accounts, bond funds usually pay out larger dividends.

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