Author Topic: clear the bond of air  (Read 1838 times)

cv

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clear the bond of air
« on: July 12, 2013, 05:13:11 PM »
Can someone please clarify all these news on bonds for me, I am confused- is now the right time to purchase bonds? i am looking at 10 more years until early retirement and right now my retirement portfolio is about 15% bonds and non-retirement is about 100% stock.

Thanks kindly.

matchewed

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Re: clear the bond of air
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2013, 05:14:52 PM »
What is your Asset Allocation? Stick with that. Ignore the doom doooooom DOOOOOOOOOM talk.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: clear the bond of air
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2013, 08:26:45 PM »
You're worried about 15% in bonds when the other 85% can get cut in half in a couple days?

Brian Romanchuk

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Re: clear the bond of air
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2013, 04:10:36 PM »
I'm in the process of doing the preparation for launching a blog for discussing the bond market; if it were live, I'd send you there :-).

There's always tons of news about the bond market, mostly of interest to a handful of bond geeks, so it's not clear where to start. Also note that I prefer to avoid giving direct investment recommendations, rather I will point out what the issues are.

The first point to note is that it is a much better time to buy bonds now than it was a few weeks ago, as the market got creamed (by bond market standards). Yields are higher (but still extremely low by most historical standards), so risk is lower. Extrapolating the previous losses to the future is a favorite pastime of financial market commentators, but that is probably not the best way to enhance returns.

The reason why some (most?) investors are wary of bonds is that Treasury bond bear markets coincide with rate hike cycles. Bond yields are very low, and will be forced higher to be in line with short-term interest rates when the Fed starts to hike rates. For example, if the economy gets back to "normal", mainstream economists would expect the fed funds rate to end up closer to 4% instead of the current 0.25%. Conversely bond bulls generally point to the weak state of the labor market, and don't expect to see rate hikes by the Fed for much longer than is discounted by the market (about 2015, I guess; don't have the data handy). (If you are not American, the story is similar for markets outside the euro area.)

As was alluded to by the other replies, you only have a small weighting in bonds, and it would be reasonable to keep the average maturity relatively low (e.g., an average maturity less than 10 years, which is typical for a bond index). Under those assumptions, the amount of risk posed by your bond holdings is presumably tiny relative to the risk of your equity holdings. However, these holdings provides some diversification for your aggregate portfolio, and you can benefit by rebalancing if your equity holdings drop. In other words, your bond holdings act as "dry powder" that you can use to buy equities if they go "on sale" during an equity market panic.