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Some federal agencies, including Ginnie Mae (GNMA) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), raise money by issuing bonds and short-term discount notes for sale to investors.
The money raised by selling these debt securities is typically used to make reduced-cost loans available to specific groups, including home buyers, students, or farmers.
Interest paid on the securities is generally higher than you'd earn on Treasury issues, and the bonds are considered nearly as safe from default. In addition, the interest on some -- but not all -- of these securities is exempt from certain income taxes.
Securities issued by former federal agencies that are now public corporations, including mortgage-buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are also sometimes described as agency bonds.