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It is ever thus...bonds!

Reading through these threads I'm surprised (but shouldn't be) at how some are abandoning bond funds, even good ones, and jumping into presumed inflation-fighter funds. The latter may be a good idea (but also may be fighting yesterday's war), but not understanding the dumping of bonds. Many bond funds are now experiencing their biggest drawdowns ever, it is their 2008 moment. We all know the narrative, and it is completely sensible, which explains the decline. History teaches these are good buying opportunities, and that is how I'm playing it, but it has not been easy. Seeing a hint of stability at the short end of the curve, maybe a good sign. This is a quick easy read that sums up the situation, https://www.virtus.com/assets/files/5hw/what_does_a_bond_bear_market_look_like_4596.pdf

Comments

  • edited April 12
    Thanks @wxman123. I hope you are right.

    The author definitely leaves this open to interpretation. I interpret what this says as we "may" be starting into a prolonged inflationary rising-rate environment like maybe the 60's-70's. I don't take that as a good buying opportunity for total return when what you show is that trends tend to last 10-20 years. As an older guy, I do hope you are right though. It would be nice if bond funds continued to playout as a good diversification role in a portfolio with returns in the 4-6% range again and not a weight that continues to be just a slow(er) money loss than equities.

    from the article:
    Inflation picked up in the 1960s and rates followed its lead. Prices spiked even higher in the 1970s and inflation didn’t let
    up until the Fed raised rates to more than 20% by the early-1980s. That bear market lasted more than 20 years.

    Is this the end? Is the four-decade bond bull market over? Should investors prepare for a bear market in bonds?

    I’m not smart enough to know these answers, but I thought it would be helpful to look at what happened the last time
    bonds were in a sustained rising rate environment.
  • edited April 17
    Thanks @wxman213 for a thoughtful post. Somewhat echos my comments this morning in Larry’s “Teach your children well” thread.

    I don’t think there’s only one way to invest. But your post does help explain why a few of us haven’t dumped our bond funds and climbed on board the commodities bandwagon after its been rolling downhill (uphill?) for longer than a year.
  • Stay short to medium, keep dry powder and buy more on the dips (just like you would with equities). Unless we are going into hyperinflation, which I doubt, you should be good. Will be nice to get some decent chunks of cash every month, been a very long time.
  • edited April 17
    Summarizing some things I've posted recently...

    We sold all of our dedicated bond funds earlier this year and kept small toeholds in NHMAX and RPHYX. Last Friday we sold the NHMAX toehold.

    ALL of the dedicated bond funds we owned are DOWN a little-to-significantly this year. Dedicated bond fund proceeds were invested FFGCX and FNARX an the below-described ladder.

    Bond proceeds from the more recent sales of allocation funds were/are being re-deployed into a relatively ST CDs/TNotes ladder (6 mos - 2-yrs, the latter being the sweet spot).

    And now adding comments related to this thread...

    There can be NO denying that this was the proper way to invest this year, and IMO for the coming months, maybe years.

    For this year, who would you rather be, an investor faithfully hanging onto dedicated bond funds DOWN 1%-10-??%%, or an investor who saw opportunity and acted, currently holding FFGCX, UP ~35% YTD, having sold FNARX UP ~30% (at the time), and holding a ST CD/TNote ladder averaging ~2% APY?

    BUYing an equity crash is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than BUYing a bond market crash because the reasons for the respective crashes are different and the prospects for recovery are different. No investor should look at them as the same or even similar.

    And don't let easy excuses for investment decision failures and confirmation bias for those failures cloud your thinking.

    Sadly, an investor takes on much greater risk now with the equity plays noted in this post. But on dedicated bond funds vs a ST CD/TNote ladder, which investor would you rather be, one faithfully holding onto dedicated bond funds for the next couple of months/years, or an investor with a ST CD/TNotes ladder paying an FDIC'd/Full Faith'd 2% average APY?
  • edited April 17
    @stillers, If I understood your post correctly, I think you are not suggesting investors to now get into FFGCX. I think your only suggestion is to get into "ST CD/TNotes ladder (6 mos - 2-yrs, the latter being the sweet spot)." Is that correct?
  • BaluBalu said:

    @stillers, If I understood your post correctly, I think you are not suggesting investors to now get into FFGCX. I think your only suggestion is to get into "ST CD/TNotes ladder (6 mos - 2-yrs, the latter being the sweet spot)." Is that correct?

    ......Because FFGCX has run-up too far, too fast, already? I'm late to the party, but I am now into TRP "New Era" fund. Natural Resources. PRNEX. And growing it. I don't see the Ukraine War ending soon. Inflation is not going away, either. In order of size in my portfolio:
    1. Financials. I hope I'm just EARLY to THAT party!
    2. Healthcare.
    3. Tech/Cyclicals, same size.
    4. Utilities.
    5. Industrials.
    .......Still growing the Nat. Res. piece.
    Sold out of PRSNX over last Wed/Thurs. Great bond fund. But bonds are not the place to be. That was a pleasant rescue-job, knowing I was preserving profit which has built-up over the course of several years. I am sticking with my TRP Floating Rate PRFRX so far, YTD, hugging zero this year. I'm below 30% bonds now. Quite a reversal. The dividends feel good----- as long as the fund doesn't make a "deep southerly turn."

    Happy Easter to all of you observing it. We spent our first night in our new digs last night. A world of difference for the better.
  • Hmm. @Crash, re PRFRX TRP Floating Rate fund....

    Zappin/Penn Mutual

    Takeaway from recent commentary

    "The yield curve is flashing yellow as the market debates whether a slowdown in growth will become more pronounced. While underlying credit quality is currently very solid across corporate credit, higher input costs, supply chain issues and more limited pricing power will cause margins and earnings to deteriorate. Loans, which have been a relative safe haven, may come under pressure, and the benefits of gaining floating-rate exposure will take a back seat to credit risk. Tourists to the asset class may be in for a bumpy ride."

    For the record, I have no idea what will happen and I wish you and all good health and good investing.

    Baseball Fan
  • stillers said:

    Summarizing some things I've posted recently...

    We sold all of our dedicated bond funds earlier this year and kept small toeholds in NHMAX and RPHYX. Last Friday we sold the NHMAX toehold.

    ALL of the dedicated bond funds we owned are DOWN a little-to-significantly this year. Dedicated bond fund proceeds were invested FFGCX and FNARX an the below-described ladder.

    Bond proceeds from the more recent sales of allocation funds were/are being re-deployed into a relatively ST CDs/TNotes ladder (6 mos - 2-yrs, the latter being the sweet spot).

    And now adding comments related to this thread...

    There can be NO denying that this was the proper way to invest this year, and IMO for the coming months, maybe years.

    For this year, who would you rather be, an investor faithfully hanging onto dedicated bond funds DOWN 1%-10-??%%, or an investor who saw opportunity and acted, currently holding FFGCX, UP ~35% YTD, having sold FNARX UP ~30% (at the time), and holding a ST CD/TNote ladder averaging ~2% APY?

    BUYing an equity crash is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than BUYing a bond market crash because the reasons for the respective crashes are different and the prospects for recovery are different. No investor should look at them as the same or even similar.

    And don't let easy excuses for investment decision failures and confirmation bias for those failures cloud your thinking.

    Sadly, an investor takes on much greater risk now with the equity plays noted in this post. But on dedicated bond funds vs a ST CD/TNote ladder, which investor would you rather be, one faithfully holding onto dedicated bond funds for the next couple of months/years, or an investor with a ST CD/TNotes ladder paying an FDIC'd/Full Faith'd 2% average APY?

    If you sold your bond funds before a 4 to 6 percent decline and bought your other funds before they moved higher than of course, fantastic timing. Making such a move over the past 10 years (maybe longer) when many talking heads were saying yields can only go higher would have been a very different story. I stick to my plan of mostly buying assets when out of favor. With bonds, as yields move higher so will returns (over time). No reason to bail, and especially in taxable accounts.
  • Hmm. @Crash, re PRFRX TRP Floating Rate fund....

    Zappin/Penn Mutual

    Takeaway from recent commentary

    "The yield curve is flashing yellow as the market debates whether a slowdown in growth will become more pronounced. While underlying credit quality is currently very solid across corporate credit, higher input costs, supply chain issues and more limited pricing power will cause margins and earnings to deteriorate. Loans, which have been a relative safe haven, may come under pressure, and the benefits of gaining floating-rate exposure will take a back seat to credit risk. Tourists to the asset class may be in for a bumpy ride."

    For the record, I have no idea what will happen and I wish you and all good health and good investing.

    Baseball Fan

    Thank you for the tip, @Baseball_Fan.
  • One other point of interest (at least to me): If you look at a bond fund like ABNDX, can find performance history back to 1975 on Yahoo Finance, it has never had two down years in a row. If we get a down year this year, then this will be the first time in 47 years that has happened. Looking at next year...will it be downside momentum, and an unprecedented third down year in a row, or reversion to the historical pattern? I still think there will be a rush to grab yield before long, but likely more pain until then, another bad day today.
  • edited April 18
    Tone of fixed income (including Preferreds) CEF managers' commentary is a good tell and worth paying attention to. I have not yet looked to read them.
  • edited April 18
    Sometimes, when everybody appears to be on one side of a trade it’s a good time to take the opposite side.
  • edited April 19
    d
  • In 1994 ABNDX was down 5.02%. In 1995 it was up 18.25%.
  • edited April 19
    wxman123 said:

    Reading through these threads I'm surprised (but shouldn't be) at how some are abandoning bond funds, even good ones, and jumping into presumed inflation-fighter funds. The latter may be a good idea (but also may be fighting yesterday's war), but not understanding the dumping of bonds. Many bond funds are now experiencing their biggest drawdowns ever, it is their 2008 moment. We all know the narrative, and it is completely sensible, which explains the decline. History teaches these are good buying opportunities, and that is how I'm playing it, but it has not been easy. Seeing a hint of stability at the short end of the curve, maybe a good sign. This is a quick easy read that sums up the situation, https://www.virtus.com/assets/files/5hw/what_does_a_bond_bear_market_look_like_4596.pdf

    Excellent contrarian analysis. Not sure where some got the notion bond funds only go up or they're no good.

  • edited April 19
    If Kiplinger is talking about tax-loss harvesting or tax-swaps, everyone probably knows about it. Trick is to find something reasonably similar for a while or forever. As they say, "if you got lemon, make lemonade", or as Chicago "philosopher" Rahm Emanuel said, "don't let a crisis go to waste" (he is not the originator of this, but a prominent recent user). https://www.kiplinger.com/investing/bonds/604540/should-you-harvest-a-loss-in-your-bond-fund-or-etf
  • edited April 19
    BaluBalu said:

    @stillers, If I understood your post correctly, I think you are not suggesting investors to now get into FFGCX. I think your only suggestion is to get into "ST CD/TNotes ladder (6 mos - 2-yrs, the latter being the sweet spot)." Is that correct?

    Here's what I previously posted.

    Sadly, an investor takes on much greater risk now with the equity plays noted in this post. But on dedicated bond funds vs a ST CD/TNote ladder, which investor would you rather be, one faithfully holding onto dedicated bond funds for the next couple of months/years, or an investor with a ST CD/TNotes ladder paying an FDIC'd/Full Faith'd 2% average APY?

    So, no, I'm NOT suggesting investors NOT get into FFGCX at this point. I'm just suggesting that IMO (BTW, that and ten bucks gets you a Starbucks) an investor is taking on greater risk at this stage, implying that a LOT of the easy money has already been made.

    That said, I happen to have (after a few changes to the deck chairs) marked the April 6 close as a date that I am tracking TRs of my funds for an interim look at current performance.

    Coming into today, since April 6, FFGCX is UP 5.6% and FCPVX (another holding) is UP fractionally. NO OTHER MFs I own are UP during that (pretty rough) interim period.

    If you want to have a current holding in your portfolio that you are reasonably sure will be UP virtually every day/week for the near-to-intermediate term, FFGCX (and the like) is a STRONG candidate, but understand (that I THINK at least) those gravy train tracks are getting closer and closer to the end of the line with each passing day.

    In the meantime, it's been, and currently still is, one helluva ride.

    Aside: On the other part of my excerpted post about dedicated bond funds vs a ST CD/TNote ladder, note that the sweet spot is NOT getting any sweeter in the past coupla days, so perhaps there is a shift in the markets happening/about to happen. We've deployed almost ALL of our SELL proceeds already, so not an issue for us. BUT, anyone wanting to go this route, oughta be looking into this strategy, like NOW!

  • @stillers, Thanks for the follow-up.

    JMO, I would not spend so much energy and effort with disclaimers - definitely not on my account. You can just say directly what you want and it is up to the readers to do what they want with the info you provide. If readers make it painful for posters, then there will be fewer useful posts.
  • edited April 19
    Noted, but...

    Not sure what you think are disclaimers in my posts, but as they say, it is what it is. No need to point them out.

    It's my style, borne out of 30+ years of writing/reviewing audit reports for the feds and senior management. FWIW, we bean counters tend to cover our arses when possible, and when appropriate, my favorite, being "sufficiently vague." The latter of which is a true art form in the bizness, routinely employed by several of my staffers, and something I always aspired to be never quite achieved.
  • Giggle. Huh? Point well-taken.
  • edited April 19
    @stillers, I did not know that was your natural style and entertains you. I am very familiar with the art form you are talking about and have dealt with it daily during my working life.
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