Over 700 finance terms, Shmooped to perfection.
There was a time (not from Les Mis) when bonds traded almost like cash. You could go to a bank window and buy a bond with cash and the teller gave you the bond and a book of coupons, which you clipped and mailed snail-mail in to the corporation who then sent you a check, which represented the interest payment for that period. And then things changed. Bad dudes like Al Qaeda started to take advantage of this anonymity.
Today, bonds are sold "registered". That is, the U.S. Government wants to know who is buying them. It makes recordkeeping a lot more burdensome, but now if you buy any security in the U.S., there will be a paper trail and we can track who bought it and when. Yes, we're watching you. Be afraid. Be very afraid.