Climb the Ladder
Fixed-income investors have been paralyzed by the fear of rising interest rates. Many investors have elected to hold cash rather than to reinvest farther out on the yield curve in maturities that offer higher interest rates. Bond market pundits are calling for higher interest rates in the near future (keep in mind that most are providing perspectives consistent with the past twenty years, when inflation was being controlled downward by the Fed, rather than in an environment characterized by the conditions that exist today). Although an immediate rise in interest rates does cause a decline in the value of bonds, the loss of higher yields investors incur while they wait for better prices can be significant. This analysis of historical interest rates shows that simple bond ladders, particularly maturities of 10 years and less, did not experience annual losses any time over the past century. A simple bond ladder may be one of the best approaches for fixed-income investing as the potential for rising rates looms. A bond ladder is a portfolio of bonds with a portion of the portfolio maturing each year (often equal amounts across each annual maturity). A bond ladder can be as short as two years or as long as 30 years or more.