Interest rates are poised to rise, which is bad news for bonds. Investors seeking a measure of safety along with the possibility of a return have a few choice alternatives to consider instead.
by: Patrick Mueller, Investment Adviser Representative, RFC March 17, 2022
Most people think bonds are safe, but in today’s volatile climate, they are not.
In the not-too-distant past, bonds were portrayed as a secure part of a portfolio – a safer investment than stocks. Investors looked to government bonds as the bedrock of a stable retirement income. But bond yields are extremely low these days, prompting some investors to seek alternatives. This has sparked renewed interest in various investments that can generate passive income and stability.
Most people don’t remember what a bad bond market looks like because we haven’t seen one for 30-plus years! We’ve had steadily declining interest rates since the mid-1980s. Bond prices move in the opposite direction of interest rates. If interest rates rise, bond prices fall, and vice versa. The Federal Reserve has indicated it will be raising interest rates in 2022 and slowing its purchase of bonds, so the climate is likely to be less favorable for long-term bonds going forward. And with bonds paying historically low interest rates, long-term bonds falling in price could mean a low-yield investment for years.
The problem with bond mutual funds
Bonds issue at par value of $1,000, and you are in effect loaning a corporation or some form of government your $1,000. There is a length of time you have to leave it there, until it reaches what is known as its maturity date, which can range from one year to 40-plus years. There will be a set interest rate for that length of time. So, if interest rates rise and bond prices fall, you can hold until maturity and get your $1,000 back.