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56% of investors do not understand the inverse relationship between bond prices and interest rates

edited August 2011 in Fund Discussions
THX to John for pointing out the new TRP floater fund. I couldn't get his linker to connect but delved into it and found this tid-bit. Joe Biden scores bit higher. Pew Research reported 2010 that 41% of Americans could not name current VP.

Forgive my not using article title for the MFO header, but I thought that stat was the real news here.
Re: the fund. Went to TRP and had a look. Cant see a compelling case - at least for me. Realize folks starvin for yield which part explains why they opened this bird up to retail investors. Shes down better than half percent YTD. Carries same TRP warning as their HY fund - not to put a "significant" portion of your assets in it. Says most of the holdings likely to be below investment grade. About same ER .85 as their high yield fund that's been around forever with a proven manager. Do expect to see folks flock to it and it may get off to good start. Just not seein it personally.


  • Hi hank.................

    The birth of funds/etf's in recent years seems to follow the "Build it and they will come" scenario, eh?

    I think a higher % of investors do not understand investing, period !!!

    Tis the old, "don't know the difference between their arse and a hole in the ground thing".................

    It is scary enough for this house to actually think we know what we are doing some of time; and we try to
    be and keep "edumacated" about such things.

    OK, off my box.

    Hope your area weather is pleasant today.

    Take care,
  • msf
    edited August 2011
    T Rowe Price Floating Rate Fund (PRFRX, PAFRX) is a new fund, not new share classes of T. Rowe Price Institutional Floating Rate Fund (RPIFX, PFFRX). As such, it doesn't have a YTD figure (just a lifetime performance figure, since its lifetime is a couple of weeks). It has a (slightly) different board of directors (e.g. Brian E. Burns is a VP of the retail fund, but not on the board of the institutional fund). It's most likely a clone though, with the same managers and probably same charter.

    Regarding performance: Yahoo shows the closing price on Aug 1 at $9.98, and the closing price yesterday at $9.61. That's a "YTD" drop of 3.7%. The institutional fund's YTD performance is -1.86% (per M*, as of yesterday's close).

    The PR is great; it suggests that what you're getting is the best of both worlds - something that won't drop in NAV as rates rise (since its bond rates float), but that will give you significant yield (since its rates won't drop, i.e. are fixed at a floor). I suspect the reality is the opposite - it is the worst of both worlds, because of that floor.

    Consider an extreme case - a bond that floats, but only above 10%. Now the market would surely treat that as a fixed rate bond, since it didn't expect rates to ever (within the lifetime of the bond) rise above 10%. So the bond would sell at a premium, and as rates rose above zero, the bond would lose principal. (Technically, some of the coupon might be treated as return of principal, so principal is not being "lost", but same effect.) The more the floor does for you, the more you are exposed to interest rate risk.

    A month or two ago, articles about the problems with floating rate funds were linked to here. I think this was one of the problems they pointed out. Another was that if rates on the underlying bonds don't change quickly enough (and the PR says these change only quarterly or monthly), then rapidly rising rates could also cause NAV to drop in response. That's the type of problem that adjustable rate mortgage funds have, and likely why T. Rowe Price converted its ARM fund into a short term bond fund a couple of decades ago.
  • edited August 2011
    Thanks MSF for correcting & amplifying my remarks. I eyeballed those numbers and came up with around half percent. Careless of me. Your -3.7 for August is spot on and oughta serve as fair warning for anybody viewing this thing as a stable asset.
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