US Fixed Income Market Structure Primer

Fixed income markets are an integral component to economic growth, providing efficient, long term and cost effective funding. In this primer from SIFMA Insights, we provide an overview of fixed income market structure, including:

  • Breaking Out the US Fixed Income Markets
  • Market Breakouts for US Treasuries, MBS, Corporates, Munis, Agency, ABS, Money Markets and Repo
  • Current Primary Dealer List
  • Credit Ratings Scale

Executive Summary

The U.S. fixed income markets are the largest in the world, comprising 39% of the $100 trillion securities outstanding across the globe, or $39 trillion.

U.S. capital markets (fixed income and equity) are a critical source of capital for businesses and governments (federal, state and local), funding 65% of total U.S. economic activity. Debt capital markets – providing a more efficient, stable and less restrictive form of borrowing for corporations – are the more prevalent fuel for growth in the U.S., while bank lending prevails in other regions (80%/20% in the U.S., reversed in other developed markets). Fixed income markets are an integral component to economic growth, providing efficient, long term and cost effective funding for governments and companies. This enables them to expand, innovate and provide goods and
services society demands.

We have seen a transformation in fixed income markets since the crisis, historically bilateral and performed by banks. Post-crisis regulatory constraints on balance sheets have forced banks to pull back from some fixed income activities. This is coupled with volatility at sustained lows across multiple asset classes and a divergence in central bank policy, as rates begin to rise in the U.S. yet remain low in most other developed nations. To continue servicing clients’ needs, markets had to be innovative and leverage product innovation and technology. This led to growth in ETFs and other passive investments as a way for investors to achieve their financial goals. The market landscape has also enabled the development and adoption of electronic market makers, albeit gradual and varying by type of security.

SIFMA Insights Primers

The primer series from SIFMA Insights goes beyond a typical 101-level brief, breaking down important technical and regulatory nuances to foster a fundamental understanding of the marketplace and set the scene to address complex issues arising in today’s markets.

See our full series here.


SIFMA Insights
Katie Kolchin, CFA
Senior Industry Analyst

Rates & Repo
Rob Toomey
Managing Director, Associate General Counsel

Chris Killian
Managing Director

Corporate Credit
Sean Davy
Managing Director

Municipal Securities
Michael Decker
Managing Director