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Does that mean if I buy a muni or corporate bond for, lets say $10,000, with a coupon of 6%, I just get 3% ($30) every six months for the life of the bond with no compounding? I've been assuming compounding.

You are correct, but you can reinvest the dividend either in more bonds or for small amounts of money a bond fund. This is where the compounding comes in. If interest rates increase you can reinvest your coupons at a rate higher than the yield to maturity.

The Yield to maturity is a number designed to allow the quick comparison of different bonds. It does not take many things into account such as maturity, future reinvestment rates, credit worthiness, taxes ect.

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