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Why rising rates isn't that bad for bonds

edited October 14 in Fund Discussions
I decided to post about bonds since I have been reading about this subject so many times and for several years already.
The concept is "when rates rise, bonds are doomed".

So let's test it based on the past. The Fed raised the federal funds rate from 12/2015 at 0.25-0.50 to 12/2018 at 2.25-2.5%, see (link)

This looks like a pretty good possible scenario starting in 2-3 years. Let's see the effect on different fund categories from 12/31/2015 to 12/31/2018.

Below is a total performance for 3 years.

PIMIX (Multi sector) +18.75...PTIAX 14.3%

VWALX(HY Muni) +10.45...OPTAX(HY Muni) 16.7%...HYD(HY Muni index) 13.3%

MUNI (Investment grade Munis) +5.5%

BIV (all investment grade, 50% treasuries + 50% Corp) +6.7

VBTLX=BND (US tot bond index) +6.2%

VCIT (investment grade Corp) 9.15%...LQD (longer duration than VCIT, investment grade Corp) 9.3%

EIFAX (bank loan managed) 19.1%...BKLN(BL index) 10.9%

HYG (High yield) +18.5%

DODIX(core plus managed bond fund) +9.9%

VWIAX (conservative allocation about 40/60) +16.3%


So, every time you read or hear that rising rates is the end of the world please disregard it.
Bonds have a place for many investors portfolios, especially if you want to lower volatility.

If you don't care, whatever the reason then by all means, invest it all in stocks.
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Comments

  • I've looked at PIMIX before. $125B AUM. I stayed away. That's just beyond bloated. Just my preference.
  • edited October 15
    I held PIMIX for years until 01/2018. Since then, it's not a top fund anymore.
  • edited October 15
    Crash said:

    I've looked at PIMIX before. $125B AUM. I stayed away. That's just beyond bloated. Just my preference.

    Although Pimco can manage funds with considerable AUM better than most firms, I agree that PIMIX has become too bloated. The legacy RMBS that helped propel the fund for years are in short supply now and it will be difficult for the fund to take a meaningful position in these securities. Philosophically, I dislike Pimco's record of not closing any funds (to my knowledge) due to excessive AUM.

  • Same reason I moved on elsewhere.
  • edited October 16
  • edited October 16
    I guess it depends on the situation. Google: What Happens to Stocks and Bonds When the Fed Raises Rates? by the awealthofcommonsense guys. Some heavy losses '71-81 in 20 year bonds when the Fed rose. No data for the intermediate bonds.
  • edited October 16
    (aside to @hank.....FD is Israeli-born)
  • edited October 17
    @Graust - Thanks. I began to think maybe that was the case after I posted. FD actually communicates quite well. The English language can seem illogical and confusing even to those of us who grew up with it.:)

    I hope some mfo members found the grammatical worksheets helpful.:)
  • I usually got a courtesy D- in "English" in grammar school. I still have absolutely no idea what a split infinitive or a dangling participle is, and to be honest, I really don't care either.
  • @hank Actually I enjoy that you and some others are as astute at prose as you are! With “text talk,” and other degradations of the English language (and written/spoken communication in general), it’s nice to read well written posts:)

    And yes, our language is “backwards” (among other things) in a lot of ways from the rest of the world.
  • edited October 17
    Old_Joe said:

    I usually got a courtesy D- in "English" in grammar school. I still have absolutely no idea what a split infinitive or a dangling participle is, and to be honest, I really don't care either.

    @Old_Joe,

    It’s rather natural nowadays for even accomplished writers and speakers to occassionally split their infinitives (as I just did for illustration). I don’t think the split infinitive prohibition is much adhered to any more. Quite frankly, I never understood the reason for its existence in the first place. Still, in formal writing or speaking, I’d try to avoid running asunder of the rule.

    That “dangling“ term sounds to me like a phrase some whack of an English teacher invented one Friday afternoon when he noticed half his class beginning to doze off. It refers to a phrase in a sentence that is so misplaced as to cast doubt about what it’s referencing. They tend to be quite obvious in a sentence to even casual readers because they muddle the meaning so much. So, other than the entertainment value the phrase may elicit for people like yourself, they probably don’t even deserve a name.

    In self defense: Let me say that when a glaring grammatical error (in this case involving subject / verb agreement) appears on what amounts to the board’s headline page it doesn’t reflect well on the board. Such errors within the normal course of communication (inside a thread) are much easier to overlook.
  • edited October 17
    Sorry about my English but please explain how do you pronounce the following 3 words differently.
    COME, HOME, TOMB. I see the vowel O in all three but the sound is different. All I know that in Hebrew and Spanish (which I learn briefly) it's very clear how to pronounce words.
    The English grammar and tenses(link) are ridiculous. I have been using a language/grammar app for years, but it can't catch all my stupid mistakes:-)

    Then look at Prepositions and particles and my head is spinning.
    Kick in = start
    Kick off = start
    Wow, how the above can be equal. How can off = start. My logic says OFF is the opposite of ON which mean no start.

    I can also admit that I was never good at languages but English has so many exceptions and illogical rules.
  • the infinitive 'rule' arose because it cannot be done in other languages (ours is perhaps the only where the infinitive is two words)

    and yes, it is increasingly ignored, although when gross ('who doesn't want to loudly and enthusiastically and without stopping sing the praises of this site?') it is nicer to rewrite

    danglers simply show inattention to what one is saying, but often have fine comic effects: 'having eaten our lunch, the ferry departed for the islands' ... as a thoughtful progressive, Gaetz took strong exception to his opponent's policies ... a girl of 13, my wife found our daughter more and more selfconscious
  • I just googled it and saw this example(link)

    The arrival of the Internet and email ?make/?makes communication with family so much easier. The answer is makes (singular) because the subject is arrival

    My OP :Why rising rates isn't that bad for bonds. I thought that rising is the subject too;-)
  • 'rising rates' in this case is more like politics and economics and such, a nominal plural functioning as a singular ... so the OP is fine as is

    (economics is a dismal subject, e.g.)
  • edited October 17
    “Then look at Prepositions and particles and my head is spinning“.

    Kick in = start
    Kick off = start

    -

    FD, Thanks for responding. What you’ve posted above are actually known as prepositional verbs. (To be perfectly honest, I had to look that one up.) You’ve used the verb form of “kick“ and followed it with a preposition. These tend to be mostly colloquial (casual) expressions, not often found in formal writing.

    Prepositions are quite easy to comprehend. Think of one as: a “linking word” having a noun or pronoun as an “object“. Examples: in, on, by. Prepositional phrases add additional meaning to other parts of the sentence. Example: “in this post”: In this example the preposition “in” is followed by its object “post“ and explains where the information was presented. If you think you see a preposition standing alone (having no object) it’s probably serving as an adverb.

    Regarding your “COME, HOME, TOMB “, with just 26 letters and only 5 vowels in the language, it’s necessary to assign various pronunciations for the same letter or combination thereof. I agree that that aspect of pronunciation would be most difficult to assimilate. I’d imagine some of the hardest for folks to get their heads around would be combinations of letters which produce sounds (neighbor, phantom). However, this issue should not pose a problem in written discourse as we’re dealing with in your “rising interest rates” post.

    I respect those like you who are multi-lingual. I don’t know any other languages, but had a couple years of Latin in HS from a very fine teacher. That experience did more to help me understand and enjoy the English language than anything else. Helping teenagers understand the poetry of Shakespeare (during another life) also contributed to my appreciation for the language. Sorry I wasn’t a bit more polite in my original intrusion into your choice of wording. Didn’t realize than that English was a second language. Just trying to be helpful. As I remarked to @Graust, you do communicate quite well. However, I think those three simple worksheets I linked would be helpful to anyone (even @Old_Joe) who might need a bit of added instruction.

    Regards


    PS - Regarding “Particles”, I assume you intended “participials”. Let’s save that one for another day!:)
  • One way to look at is:Kick in means a device or drug has been activated. Kick off refers to the kickoff in American Football, which is the first play in every game.
  • edited October 17
    @caeew388 - OK:)


    Quick note to @FD1000 - The error in your thread title is pretty basic - not something most educated readers wouldn’t at least notice.

    What I think happened is that you considered “rising rates” to be singular in form. Actually, in conventional use “rising rates” is plural. Therefore, the plural form of the verb (are) is the correct choice. You’re using a contraction here, so the word you need is “aren’t” Sentence reads properly: “Why rising interest rates aren’t that bad for bonds.“

    On the other hand, if discussing just one particular interest rate, the singular verb form “is” would be accurate. Example using a singular verb form: “Why the bank’s rising mortgage rate isn’t good for the home-buyer.”

    Just trying to help.

    On the topic of interest rates:

    Certainly folks invested in short duration bonds, money market instruments and the like would welcome rising rates. Banks are one business that are predicted to do better with higher rates because they can lend money at those rates. But longer-dated bonds would not do well - at least not until after the sharply rising rate trend had subsided.

    What I’m really wondering is what would happen to the S&P type stocks over a protracted period of rising rates? Has there ever been a period in history during which rates in the U.S. have fallen so far for so long? Longer term rates have fallen from around 20% in the 80s to what? Around 3% now? Regardless of the exact number, that’s been one long steep slide. And it’s persisted for more than 30 years by my count. It’s so unique that there’s not a good deal to go on in trying to assess the impact on many other investments. At some point, if rates rise enough, people may begin to consider bonds a good alternative to equities and begin shifting money away from the stock market.

  • Well, it's good for English departments. I think English classes went each year until the 2nd year of college. And this only made some of us literate.
  • edited October 18
    What @hank said.
    What I posted about singularity was a somewhat extreme or unusual example, though the rhetorical casting w/ the why ... bad does some excusing. My analogs of politics and economics are rather crude. Most eds other than me in absentminded mode probably would've changed it to rising rates aren't....
  • edited October 19
    FD1000 said:

    I just googled it and saw this example(link)

    The arrival of the Internet and email ?make/?makes communication with family so much easier. The answer is makes (singular) because the subject is arrival

    My OP :Why rising rates isn't that bad for bonds. I thought that rising is the subject too;-)

    -

    FD - Their example (above) utilizes a prepositional phrase (“of the internet and email”) which works as a modifier describing the subject which is “arrival.” So, they do have a singular subject in arrival. The word “rising” in your sentence serves as an adjective describing rates. So “rates” is your subject. However, “rising” is an unusual adjective in that it is derived from the verb “rise.” In English, when you create an adjective out of a verb it is called a “participial.” However, it works in the sentence as any other adjective would. I can certainly understand how that can be confusing

    What you appear to have is an independent (main) clause in declarative voice starting with the adverb “why.” An independent clause is considered a sentence. Your subject, than, is “rates.” I think common usage by and large would support that. I’m inclined, however, to think that technically, you may not really have an independent clause at all, but, rather a subordinate clause (technically not a complete sentence).

    Here’s what I mean: “Why rising interest rates isn’t that bad for bonds .....” really doesn’t express a complete thought. Starting with “why” leaves us wondering a bit about what complete thought is being expressed, To do that (technically speaking) you would need to add a main verb. The complete sentence might read:

    “Why rising interest rates aren’t that bad for bonds is apparent in a number of ways.”

    Here it is dissected a bit more: “Why rising interest rates aren’t bad for bonds / is / apparent / in a number of ways.”

    In the above 4 word groupings there exist:

    (1) an introductory subordinate (adverbial) clause serving as subject

    (2) a main verb (is)

    (3) a predicate adjective (apparent)

    (4) a prepositional phrase which serves to modify the main verb (Some would say the prepositional phrase modifies the predicate adjective.)

    Actually, since your statement serves as title of the thread, it need not be a sentence. Most titles aren’t. None of this alters the fact that “rates” is your subject - be it within a main or subordinate clause.

    Cheers!
  • edited October 18
    Hank- You've been reading my posts on MFO for many years now, and in all that time, if I'm remembering correctly, only once did someone advise me that I had made a grammatical error.

    I really wasn't joking about my virtually complete ignorance of the definition or meaning of all of the grammatical terminology that you are referencing. For example, I could no more define for you what any of the following might mean-

    • prepositional phrase

    • independent main clause

    • subordinate clause

    • predicate adjective (apparent)

    • pronominal adjective

    • singular verb form

    • introductory subordinate (adverbial) clause serving as

    than I could explain to you the fine points of molecular biology. And even if I were somehow able to acquire that grammatical knowledge, how exactly would I then apply it when I sit down to write something?

    When I write something, I just mentally process it as if someone were sitting here talking to me. It either sounds "right" or it doesn't.

    So, I would certainly totally flunk any standard test on grammatical usage. But I do believe that, in my life, I've somehow managed to communicate reasonably effectively in spite of that limitation.

    OJ
  • Thanks for posting FD. PIMIX has been a thorn in my side. I believe 12/18 was the time the fed began raising rates in which the fund began to get hit, and still hasn't recuperated. Of course, at that time, I lump summed some money into it (who says lump sum is better that DCA?). I know I made money on the dividends (which got reduced), but it still bothers me. I plan on slowly shifting money out of the fund. But getting back to your point, that was the time rising rates impacted a bond fund.
  • edited October 18
    Funny thing, I was pretty good at English grammar while taking tests:-)
    After learning Spanish only one year compare to many years in English I wish the most common world language would be Spanish. It's easier to learn, speak and read.
    Interesting facts: I immigrated in my mid 30 and worked in IT, most of my co-workers were Asian/Indians. My wife stated that my English got worse over the years;-)

    Another observation: Israel is similar to the US. It has immigrants from around the world. The worse Hebrew speakers after several years are the English ones, especially Americans. The immigrants who speak German, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic have better accent, grammar and fluency. What makes English so complicated? Many exceptions, a lot more words with small nuances, the sentence structure is unique, and too many tenses.

    Anyway, the bad thing for most investors who look for bonds as ballast for stock is the fact that BND+BIV pay about 2% but most still need it, especially retirees who have enough money and worry about volatility. PTIAX can be a compromise fund with a decent volatility + 4% annual distributions.

    For me it's not a big problem since I'm trading bond funds using momentum and looking for good performance. Most of that performance came from MBS/securitized funds such as PIMIX,IOFIX but in the last several years HY Munis (NHMAX,OPTAX,ORNAX,GWMEX) also made me money.
  • edited October 18
    Old_Joe said:



    - I really wasn't joking about my virtually complete ignorance of the definition or meaning of all of the grammatical terminology that you are referencing.

    - I could no more define for you what any of the following might mean.

    - When I write something, I just mentally process it as if someone were sitting here talking to me. It either sounds "right" or it doesn't.

    - But I do believe that, in my life, I've somehow managed to communicate reasonably effectively in spite of that limitation.

    Fair enough sir. Grammar is indeed a highly technical way of examining the written or spoken word. One does not look first at the grammar book and than put pen to paper. Think of grammar as a way of backtesting what has been written with an eye to improving upon it or learning something new about our use of language that may help us communicate even better in the future. Many writers suffer from an inability to experiment with the language for fear of breaking some ill-defined rule.

    Can you write and speak adequately with no knowledge of grammar? Certainly. Can you drive without understanding how various tire compounds interact with the pavement under differing weather conditions? Sure. Can you make lots of money investing in stocks without any knowledge of standard accounting procedures? Of course. On the other hand, you’d be an even better writer if you understood grammar, an even safer driver if you understood the way various tires interact with wet / dry pavement, and a much smarter investor if you understood standard accounting procedures. Don’t count learning short in any endeavor
  • edited October 18
    "Don’t count learning short in any endeavor"

    @hank- I certainly don't: "I've somehow managed to communicate reasonably effectively in spite of that limitation".

    BTW, I thought that your "driving" analogy was particularly effective.

    Note- referring to that last seemingly simple sentence, I hesitated as I typed the word "driving", realizing that I needed to be careful there or I would be constructing a "driving analogy", which would create a potentially confusing word combination. (What the hell is a driving analogy? An analogy driven by something?)

    When speaking, we frequently use subtle changes in voice pitch or tonal emphasis to avoid such traps. I chose to solve that particular situation by placing "driving" in quotes, so as to visually separate it from "analogy". These kinds of things are always happening in writing, and I'd really be surprised if there is a "rule book" that covers every such situation. It seems to me that the trick in writing is to use whatever device works to emulate the subtle characteristics of speech.

    FD's headline is a bit tricky. I probably would have just reworded it to "Why a rise in rates isn't..." just to avoid having to think about it too much.
  • The grumps are at it again. It's either politics or grammar nit picking ... not mutual funds
  • @RisklessinSeattle I actually think this thread has been thoughtful, informative, and polite, with posters frankly exchanging questions and answers and genuinely trying to learn and help each other.

    Maybe the rule should be, if you must go off topic, let it be about grammar! It brings out the best in us, it seems.
  • While "aren't" would be the preferred usage in this instance, I can see an argument being presented that "rising rates" might be considered as a single action or consequence of policy. In that event, "isn't" would not be a particularly large stretch, imo. Verbally, you would kind of have to run the two words together as in: "risingrates", though! 8^b
  • Actually, I have a lot more problems with the original OP than the way he said it. First, he cites FED funds rate, but his examples are all over the board intermediate bonds. Did these funds see a 2.5% rise in their yields? I don't think so. Second, three years seems to be FD's go-to for making points. Anything can happen with bond funds (or stock funds) over a three year period. Third, "bonds are doomed" does not express my feelings nor have I even heard it before. I hear a lot about bonds being a poor investment at low rates but no so much at higher rates.
    I think a good deal of the problem is that the OP is a trader, while most of us hold bond funds for stability and over longer periods than 3 years.

    But, hey, don't get me wrong; I love that my bonds are doing well despite low yields. I just don't believe it can continue for long.
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