If every story comes with a moral, the story of how we have invested our funds over the past 10 years has this one lesson to teach us: that you can’t just put all your money in stocks alone. This wasn’t the way things always worked. The general understanding not long ago was that if you bought stocks and held onto them for long enough, over the long run, they would actually perform far better than bonds ever did. And they did that with no more than the same amount of risk that bands came with. Financial advisors told their clients to only choose investment bonds if they needed somewhere safe to park their funds for a short period of time. Over the long run, the always felt that stocks won out.
As we all know though, stocks have managed to do particularly poorly over the last two years the of the last decade. It was so bad, the 2000’s compare with one or two of the worst investment decades since the great depression. In a time when the US economy is somewhat troubled, putting all your money in stocks is easily too risky a gamble to take. Anyone who invests for a reasonable period of time needs to consider buying fixed income securities as the kind of stabilizer for their portfolio.
Of course, when chosen as an investment, bonds call for some kind of scaling back of any ambition. Still, it doesn’t have to be as bad as it appears. Studies that compare portfolios devoted to treasury bonds to portfolios that are divided equally between investment bonds and shares find that the one with the bonds only earn about 2% less a year. This isn’t that much of a hit to take for all the security they bring you.
There’s just one problem in all this, of course; investment bonds may be a safe is a place to park your money. But when there is little risk involved in an investment, the interest paid is usually quite paltry. Add to that the fact that there are millions of investors around the country who are anxious to place their money in sound debt, and you begin to see why the government has no interest in raising the rates of return on investment bonds. If you’re wondering what sound debt is, consider what bonds really are – they are loans you make to the government in return for an IOU. You are selling debt to the government; since the US government is the most reliable borrower on earth, with vast funds to back any IOU up with, any debt made out to the US government is considered really sound. And that is so even if the US has borrowed staggering sums of recent. U.S. Treasury bonds pay 0.2% on bonds that you are allowed to cash in six months. Those are pretty low rates.
Investors do have a problem with how paltry their returns are with government investment bonds. But they are willing to take that if the alternative they have is in regular stocks that can tank like they did three years ago. If you wish to experiment with other kinds of investment bonds, make sure that you don’t choose anything to do with mortgages – like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The housing crisis is still about and dealing in corporations that are affected can’t be a smart investment move.