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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-26-2007, 05:57 PM   #21
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by wab
Only those "fine mechanics" that you so disdain.

Wellesley is 65% nominal bonds, right? Today, nominal bond yields are around 5%, and the embedded inflation estimate in those bonds is around 2.5%.

So, we don't need hyperinflation for nominal bonds to suck. If inflation goes up, that causes interest rates to go up, and bond values go down according to their duration. That's practically physics. If inflation stays above 3%, the total return on those bonds stay low relative to inflation-index bonds. In the case of high inflation, the total return on those bonds will be negative in real terms.

No historical data required. Use today's bond yields to predict future returns, use today's duration to predict capital loss and gain, use today's inflation estimate to predict effects of higher or lower inflation.
I'm sorry, didnt know I 'disdained' anything in particular thats of value.

The problem with your analysis is that in the opposite scenario...low inflation, lowering rates, etc...the value of such a fund goes up. So plenty of ying to go with the yang.

As we've analyzed to death, the value of everyday non inflation protected bonds seems to be at a near parity with their inflation protected counterparts...it just takes a few years here or there. Efficient markets and all.

Since Wellesley doesnt hold long term bonds or even much in the longer intermediate area, its bond holdings should provide a medium holding term return thats compatible with a bunch of inflation protected bonds. And the chunk of large value just boosts the overall long term returns.

Once again, we're tied up with the semantics and mechanics and not the intent. Rich asked about a fund to hedge against inflation. Methinks a fund that returns an average of over 8% a year, has never had a double digit down year, nor any sequential losing years...and pays a dividend thats in excess of average CPI like clockwork...is a pretty good safe haven for money against inflation.

But if you like those inflation protected products that are paying less than a money market right now, and in some periods paying nothing at all...well...good for you!
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-26-2007, 06:13 PM   #22
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
The problem with your analysis is that in the opposite scenario...low inflation, lowering rates, etc...the value of such a fund goes up. So plenty of ying to go with the yang.
He didn't ask for the opposite scenario -- he was asking about an inflation hedge.

The duration of Wellesley's bonds average 5.7 years. That means if interest rates go up (a la inflation), then the value of those bonds go down 5.7% for every 1% increase in market rates. I'm not sure if that's anybody's idea of an inflation hedge -- certainly not mine.

You simply cannot extrapolate the past performance of Wellesley into the future unless you also assume that the future economic environment and starting conditions are similar. I don't understand why people look to past performance when duration, current interest rates, current inflation, and current dividend yields are much better predictors of future performance.

The focus on past performance almost seems like a hairball sometimes.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-26-2007, 07:10 PM   #23
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by REWahoo!
I couldn't locate annual performance numbers back any further than 1975, but just out of curiosity here's Wellesley annual returns for 75-82 vs the CPI for that year:

Return CPI
1982 23.3 6.1
1981 8.7 10.4
1980 11.9 13.5
1979 6.2 11.3
1978 3.6 7.7
1977 4.3 6.5
1976 23.3 5.8
1975 17.5 9.1

The five year stretch from 1977 through 1981 looks kinda rough...
For Wellesley from inception [7/1970] to 1994 see 12/31/94 Annual Report, page 6:

Return
1971 15.0
1972 9.7
1973 -3.5
1974 -6.4
1975 17.5

See also CPI-U. Shouldn't we be using Dec-Dec %'s? So 1975 would be [(55.5/51.9)-1] = 6.9%?

btw - Vanguard also breaks it down into Capital + Income Return, so you can see what both would have been from 1971-1982.

So, for example, the capital return for Wellesley from 1/1/71-12/31/82 was only around 0.30% per year, while the income return was around 8.86% per year.

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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-26-2007, 08:28 PM   #24
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

Devil's advocate:

1. TIPS may have inflation indexing built in, but how good is that? Indexed to a government index, CPI, PPI? One that is widely criticized as dramatically understating inflation over recent years? Tell me, has your health care, your food, your energy costs, risen at only 3% per year compounded? DId not think so. Why then, would you trust the government's inflation figures, or an investment linked thereto?

2. Where is your true inflation hedges (as a part of your total asset allocation) -- gold bullion, other precious metals, natural resources, real estate?

Put a gun to my head, and I'd vote for Wellesley, especially if it is a balanced fund? Forced to choose between 100% bonds and 100% equities, I'd take equities for their long term history. AT least you own a share of something real, not just a governmetn IOU.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-26-2007, 08:52 PM   #25
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by pedorrero
1. TIPS may have inflation indexing built in, but how good is that? Indexed to a government index, CPI, PPI? One that is widely criticized as dramatically understating inflation over recent years? Tell me, has your health care, your food, your energy costs, risen at only 3% per year compounded? DId not think so. Why then, would you trust the government's inflation figures, or an investment linked thereto?
We've beat this one to death elsewhere, but the bottom line is that CPI is a 100% transparent calculation, and the market watches the CPI, which is all that really matters. It doesn't matter if CPI matches your inflation rate. What matters is whether TIPS will preserve your purchasing power better than nominal bonds.

Quote:
2. Where is your true inflation hedges (as a part of your total asset allocation) -- gold bullion, other precious metals, natural resources, real estate?
Those weren't allowed as choices in the original question. But of those, I like real estate as a true inflation hedge. Real estate prices are driven mostly by wage inflation, so when you give up your wages, it's nice to have something virtually guaranteed to keep up with the Joneses.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 06:47 AM   #26
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by wab
Real estate prices are driven mostly by wage inflation
Except for in the last 5 years.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 10:54 AM   #27
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by wab
He didn't ask for the opposite scenario -- he was asking about an inflation hedge.

The duration of Wellesley's bonds average 5.7 years. That means if interest rates go up (a la inflation), then the value of those bonds go down 5.7% for every 1% increase in market rates. I'm not sure if that's anybody's idea of an inflation hedge -- certainly not mine.

You simply cannot extrapolate the past performance of Wellesley into the future unless you also assume that the future economic environment and starting conditions are similar. I don't understand why people look to past performance when duration, current interest rates, current inflation, and current dividend yields are much better predictors of future performance.

The focus on past performance almost seems like a hairball sometimes.
So once again, past performance means nothing, so we have absolutely nothing with which to determine asset allocation strategies and appropriate investments?

The "opposite situation" was important, simply because you highlighted the downside half of the investment and why that would suck vs inflation, and neglected the upside half of the investment.

I'm frankly shocked that you'd cherry pick information for the sake of simply sustaining an argument!

The point is, most investors looking to 'hedge inflation' are looking for a conservative place to park their money, ideally in a low volatility situation, with low likelihood of loss of principal, with good returns that exceed inflation and pays a decent dividend.

Seems to me that once you set aside the grunty technical bits and whiny insistences on putting things into small buckets, that Wellesley (and similar funds) meets those criteria nicely.

The one catch, as I mentioned, is Rich's 5 year horizon. If the question was "a good fund for the duration of my existence" for an inflation fighting component, I wouldnt hesitate to recommend something like wellesley as an option.

But then again, except for my recent small foray into ISM (which i'm currently regretting) I wouldnt touch most CPI indexed securities with anything shorter than an 18.2' pole.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 11:14 AM   #28
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
So once again, past performance means nothing, so we have absolutely nothing with which to determine asset allocation strategies and appropriate investments?

The "opposite situation" was important, simply because you highlighted the downside half of the investment and why that would suck vs inflation, and neglected the upside half of the investment.
This is getting silly. I've presented you with hard information on why the *average* historical performance is misleading. Others have presented you with data showing how poorly the fund performs during periods of high inflation, including data that disproves your meaningless assertion of "no two sequential down years." And I've presented you with hard data on how you can use current metrics as a *much* better indicator of how the fund will perform in the future.

Everybody knows nominal bonds suck during periods of increasing inflation. Everybody knows that stocks suffer from inflation shocks. A 65:35 bond:stock fund has got to be nearly the worst possible inflation hedge, yet you continue to ignore these facts.

Silly wabbit. Cough up this hairball, will ya?
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 11:33 AM   #29
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
The one catch, as I mentioned, is Rich's 5 year horizon. If the question was "a good fund for the duration of my existence" for an inflation fighting component, I wouldnt hesitate to recommend something like wellesley as an option.
I'm inclined to buy your reasoning and logic. What I'll likely do is keep around maybe a year's worth of expenses in TIPs just to get me through a serious inflationary flare. Just can't see TIPs being very good at anything else on my list.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 11:42 AM   #30
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
I'm inclined to buy your reasoning and logic. What I'll likely do is keep around maybe a year's worth of expenses in TIPs just to get me through a serious inflationary flare. Just can't see TIPs being very good at anything else on my list.
Rich, I have no interest in persuading you one way or the other, but I am interested in the reasoning behind your conclusion.

You seem to think TIPS are a low-return alternative to nominal bonds. That you'd be sacrificing return for better inflation protection. Is that the core of your reasoning?
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 12:23 PM   #31
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by wab
That you'd be sacrificing return for better inflation protection. Is that the core of your reasoning?
More or less, "return" meaning compared to Wellesley, which I presented as an income-oriented benchmark that reflects how the money might be postured if not invested in TIPs.

I'm a nontechnical investor, and have little interest in risk exposure on my fixed investment side -- I leave that to the stock side. Most of it will be in short term bonds and some cash. I see TIPs playing a niche role in modest amounts, which I might welcome if inflation goes to 5% or 6%+ and I don't want to cut too deep anywhere else. I could burn my TIPS fund conveniently for a year or two until other adjustments come into play (reduce expenses, rebalance, etc.)

So this was a pretty interesting discussion for me. What flaws do you see in this logic?
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 12:42 PM   #32
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
What flaws do you see in this logic?
Well, TIPS are designed to remove risk. Specifically inflation risk. They can't be compared directly to a balanced fund, but they can be compared directly to nominal bonds. Nominal bonds have an embedded estimate of inflation in their yield, and they suffer when that estimate is too low.

Currently, nominal bonds have a very low estimate of inflation. The market could be right about low inflation, and those bonds will perform as well or better than TIPS. If the market estimate is too low, TIPS will perform better. Swedroe has a pretty logical sliding scale on TIPS allocation based on historical real returns from nominal bonds. It's basically what I follow (but I invented it first!), and I'm not very excited about TIPS given the current yield -- wait for at least 2.5% real yield.

If you're looking for a low-volatility all-purpose fund, I think the Vanguard Target series is probably better than Wellesley. You'll get some TIPS, international, small cap, etc in the mix that Wellesley lacks.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 01:45 PM   #33
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
Swedroe has a pretty logical sliding scale on TIPS allocation based on historical real returns from nominal bonds. It's basically what I follow (but I invented it first!), and I'm not very excited about TIPS given the current yield -- wait for at least 2.5% real yield.
Where can I find this sliding scale documented? Or can you post here? Thank you.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 01:58 PM   #34
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by megacorp-firee
Where can I find this sliding scale documented? Or can you post here? Thank you.
I had to find it by googling his book. It's on page 226 of his new book "The Only Guide to a Winning Bond Strategy You'll Ever Need."

Real Yield on TIPS: % of your bond allocation

>3%: 75-100%
>2.5%: 50-75%
>2%: 25-50%
>1.5%: 0-25%
<1.5%: 0%

this link might work
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 04:04 PM   #35
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

Hey Wab...the sky's blue!

During the periods of high inflation, some nominal capital paper loss was experienced by wellesley. During those same years, the sucker was paying out 8-14% as a dividend. I think that in the face of high inflation, a very low risk, low volatility fund paying me those sorts of paychecks in a scenario where I have no need to sell principal shares...I'd be pretty fricking comfortable.

Once those periods declined, the funds principal value rebounded, and then some.

But...you're not interested in a discussion, just an argument. I'm still a little too tired from all this moving of furniture to accommodate you. Maybe next month... :

As far as hairballs, maybe the bigger one in the room is the guy who keeps "backing up the truck" to buy these CPI linked investment products which have incredibly low net yields right now, have for several years, and probably will have low yields for the foreseeable future. Perhaps a little less defense of your errors is in order?
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 04:17 PM   #36
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
During the periods of high inflation, some nominal capital paper loss was experienced by wellesley. During those same years, the sucker was paying out 8-14% as a dividend. I think that in the face of high inflation, a very low risk, low volatility fund paying me those sorts of paychecks in a scenario where I have no need to sell principal shares...I'd be pretty fricking comfortable.
We're talking past each other. I'm trying to point out the flaw in your reasoning, but either you're not seeing it, or I'm not seeing your logic.

How does a fund pay an 8-14% dividend yield? Is it magic? No. Is it an entitlement because it happened in the past? No.

The fund paid a high dividend back in the days when bond yields were high and stock dividend yields were high.

Today, bond yields are low and stock dividend yields are low. No amount of magic or wishing based on historical data will allow Wellesley to pay a high dividend in this environment. Yet the fund is still vulnerable to the same sort of capital losses if the economy slows down or inflation heats up.

Furthermore, the past returns of Wellesley were boosted by two additional historical factors: a declining interest rate environment (from very high yields to today's yields) which provided captial gains to bond returns, and an expanding P/E environment which provided capital gains to stocks beyond those warranted by the economic fundamentals.

To assume that the fund will perform the same going forward is nothing more than voodoo investing. Good luck (or good mojo, I guess) with that one.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 05:04 PM   #37
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

WAB, CFB you guys seem to be arguing past each other, and I am not sure you are even answering Rich's question.

Fundamentally WAB is correct the only worse inflation hedges than a fund with a 65% intermediate bond allocation is a fund with 100% long-term bonds. AFAIK both medium and long-bond holder during the Weimer Republic suffered a basically a total loss. So in theory Wellesley, is frankly a horrible investment if you fear high inflation. The M* report on it says "All the same, investors should be mindful of its above-average sensitivity to rising interest rates."

That being said, Rich's real question is how do I protect my real income (not portfolio value) during times of high inflation. CFB points to Wellesly's remarkable performance over a 37 year period, about the same length of time as typically early retirement planning horizon. Over a long period of time, and through many different types of market Wellesly distributed a growing and steady income stream to investors.

Now is the due to luck on the part of Wellesly's managers of having a bunch of favorable trends during their tenure, or some skill on their part by adroit money managemen? I don't know for sure, but with a 20 year tenure I don't think it is pure luck.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 05:11 PM   #38
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by clifp
Now is the due to luck on the part of Wellesly's managers of having a bunch of favorable trends during their tenure, or some skill on their part by adroit money managemen? I don't know for sure, but with a 20 year tenure I don't think it is pure luck.
Alec provided a nice analysis of Wellesley in another thread. There is no alpha attributable to management. Performance was explained by the allocation to large value and bonds.

If we were having this discussion in 1980, when yields on both stocks and bonds were high, I'd be giving Wellesley two thumbs up. Not today, and definitely not as an inflation hedge.
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 05:43 PM   #39
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

I found Alec's analysis here http://socialize.morningstar.com/NewSocialize/asp/FullConv.asp?forumId=F100000015&convId=160983&t1=1 148068791

Understanding regression analysis is hard for me on the best of days, but today while suffering from a hangover it ain't going to happen .

I agree with you as inflation hedge Wellesley's isn't a good choice, not sure I'd dismiss it quite so quickly as place for a retiree to invest conservatively for income, and with a ER of .15%, you aren't making a financial advisor rich!
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?
Old 04-27-2007, 07:29 PM   #40
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Re: Better inflation hedge: TIPs or Wellesley?

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Originally Posted by clifp
I agree with you as inflation hedge Wellesley's isn't a good choice, not sure I'd dismiss it quite so quickly as place for a retiree to invest conservatively for income, and with a ER of .15%, you aren't making a financial advisor rich!
Heh. If the question posed was "is Wellesley a reasonable low-cost 40/60 balanced fund?" then you wouldn't have heard a peep from me.

But if you're looking for income and stability of principal, I'd probably use an even mix of TIPS and nominals. The smidgen of large value is probably fine too, but today the market is dominated by large value, so the Target Retirement series looks better to me.
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