There are a couple of good (albeit US-centric) summary pages on the Bogleheads wiki, specifically:https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Laddering_bonds_or_CDshttps://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Individual_bonds_vs_a_bond_fund
These have links to relevant threads on the forums plus external sources, and you can literally spend days reading to your heart's content.
I have a lot of notes from when I was in the "research everything"-phase that we all go through but unfortunately they're not in any format that I can upload (there is a lot of information in Japanese too, because the JGB situation is somewhat an enigma in the world of bonds, and it's hard to find much information in English where things aren't being viewed through a Western lens).
I think the biggest misconceptions among individual investors are statements along the lines of:
"bonds = stable returns" or
"bonds = defensive asset class"
These are true statements on the surface, but there are a significant number of exceptions to the rule, and if you're going to be investing in bonds then you do yourself a favour by being aware of the risks.
I aim to hold a ladder of bonds dated between 15-20 years. I'm not looking for fixed income, but may in future, so it's a nice option to have - you'd just not sell once it was 15 years from maturity, and continue to receive dividends.
Could you explain this strategy a little more? I did read up on the concept of bond ladders, but I'm unsure what you're doing in the above approach.
Ok so I have an AGB bond ladder, purchasing the longest-dated AGBs available (currently 22 1/2 years from maturity), and selling them* when there is only 15 years remaining until maturity.
What I am trying to do here is create a hedge against any black swan event that resembles a (prolonged) period of deflation, while not creating too much drag on portfolio performance.
The main point is that no-one knows what is around the corner, and this is an attempt to hedge against events which look like deflation.
The overwhelming consensus is that deflation, or specifically a deflationary spiral, is a terrible thing. Having spent a decade in Japan I'm a little on the fence about it myself. Regardless, during times of deflation (or anticipated deflation), rates tend to trend down, causing bond prices (in particular long term bond prices) to "flick" upwards. Combine that with the investors scrambling for long term guaranteed returns and it can theoretically be quite a powerful movement.
The hedge works by purchasing these bonds now.
There is a fair chance that the market will move against me in the interim (or not. ref: Switzerland's negative rates) and I'll lose money, but that doesn't matter. What matters here is that I won't lose my job and then be forced to sell equity holdings when one day deflation (or something like it) hits, thus preserving my wealth.
I want to go into more detail about why a bond fund wouldn't offer the same protection but I've gotta keep moving. More later!
* Or not selling them. There are cases where I may be better off remaining in bonds for a bit longer, or until maturity. This flexibility is why I probably wouldn't purchase a long term bond fund even if it were available.