Category: Bonds


Demystifying High Yield Bonds

What are high yield bonds? I don’t mean the textbook definition (corporate bonds with a credit rating below BBB), but how they actually behave in terms of risk and return. To explore this, let’s address some common questions surrounding the asset class also known as “junk bonds”… Question #1: Do High Yield Bonds Act More […]

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The Golden Age for Bonds Is Over

For 40 years (1980-2019), bond investors in the US earned a rate of return that outpaced inflation, and often by a wide margin: In the 1980s, 10-year yields moved from 10.4% down to 7.8%, and bond investors earned an annualized real return of 6.6%. In the 1990s, 10-year yields moved from 7.8% down to 6.3%, […]

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Stocks, Bonds, and Higher Inflation

US inflation expectations continue to rise, now at their highest levels since 2008. If higher inflation is coming (see here for some signs), many investors are wondering how that will impact their portfolio. Let’s take a look at how stocks and bonds have performed historically under various levels of inflation… If we segment calendar year […]

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The Most Important Rule in Investing

“Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.” – Warren Buffett With all due respect to Warren Buffett, the most important rule in investing is not anything close to “never lose money.” In fact, the entire notion is absurd. Anyone who has ever invested in the history of the […]

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The Price of Admission in Bonds

When investors think about investing in bonds, losing money probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Bonds tend to be synonymous with safety, clipping your coupon and allowing you to sleep well at night. While this is often the case, often is not always. We’re seeing that so far this year with the […]

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The Worst Year for Bonds in History?

Over the past 40 years, bond yields have largely moved in one direction: down. The 10-Year Treasury went from a yield of 15.84% in 1981 to an all-time closing low of 0.52% in 2020. This has been a blessing for bond investors as prices move inversely to yields. And over the last 2 years, as […]

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Bonds for the Long Run?

Over the last 20 years, long-term bonds have outperformed stocks (350% vs. 284%). Needless to say, this outcome will come as a surprise to many… (Note: in this post I’m using the S&P 500 Index Fund (VFINX) as the proxy for “stocks” and the Vanguard Long-Term Investment Grade Bond Fund (VWESX) as the proxy for […]

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What Happens When High Yield Becomes Low Yield?

In December 2008, as the “world was ending,” US junk bonds hit a record high yield of 23.26%. Forecasts of financial Armageddon were widespread, and few could envision a scenario in which subordinated bondholders would receive anything but pain. Note: throughout this post, we use the ICE BofA US High Yield Index as the high […]

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No Country for Old Yields

Over the past 40 years, there has been a one-way trend in US Treasury Bond Yields: down. US 10-Year Treasury Yield…September 1980: 11.6%September 1985: 10.4%September 1990: 8.9%September 1995: 6.2%September 2000: 5.9%September 2005: 4.3%September 2010: 2.8%September 2015: 2.2%September 2020: 0.7% — Charlie Bilello (@charliebilello) September 18, 2020 If you’re a bond investor, that has been a […]

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The Worst Risk/Reward in History?

The yield on investment grade corporate bonds has moved all the way down to 2.35%. If the month ended today, that would be the lowest monthly close in history. Why is this important? Because the single best predictor of future returns for bonds are its starting yield. On average, the higher the starting yield, the […]

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What is Real?

High Yield credit spreads are lower today than they were during market corrections in 2011 and 2016. The same is true for Investment Grade credit spreads. Why is this notable? There were no recessions in 2011 or 2016 and today were are faced with what could be the largest economic contraction since the Great Depression. […]

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Bonds, Bubbles and Biases

What returns are you expecting from bonds over the next five years? If you’re like most investors, your answer is probably too high. Why? Because of something called recency bias, the human tendency to give more weight to the recent past in making projections about the future. And why is that a problem today? Because […]

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