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CREF - ILB or Bond Market Fund?
Old 11-01-2007, 07:52 AM   #1
Confused about dryer sheets
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7
CREF - ILB or Bond Market Fund?

Right now the portion of my 403b portfolio in fixed income investments is split about 66% CREF Bond Market Fund and 34% CREF Inflation-Linked Bond Fund. The ILB is up 7.08% YTD and the Bond is up 4.10% YTD. Looking at the long term though they are pretty close with the ILB returning 6.52% since inceptions and the Bond returning 6.99%.

With the US dollar sinking to all time lows against other currencies and oil getting close to $100 a barrel I see $4, $5 and $6 a gallon gasoline in our future and inlation like we had in the early '80s. I've been thinking about just putting it all the fixed income portion into the ILB fund. I need a little persuasion though, I'm in this for the long haul. Can someone help me out please? Give me the advantages and disadvantages of doing that or maybe I should still stay diversified in the two bond funds and just switch to 66% ILB and 34% Bond Market? Thank you, I value your opinions.

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Old 11-02-2007, 11:21 AM   #2
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There are quite a few people who would agree to throw it all in the ILB account. Here's a conversation over on the Diehards board, in which there are a couple of linked papers on allocations to TIPS vs. nominal bonds, including these two:

Asset Allocation with Inflation-Protected Bonds

Diversification Benefits of Treasury Inflation Protected Securities: An Empirical Puzzle

David Swenson has recommended splitting bonds equally b/w nominal treasuries and TIPS.

IIRC, both CREF bond market + ILB did well in the 00-02 bear market, with the ILB account doing slightly better. TIPS funds like the ILB account also did better than TBM funds like CREF bond market and VBMFX in the recent credit crunch.

Also, it can probably be argued that one could hold both CREF bond market + ILB for behavioral reasons - so you don't kick yourself and do something stupid if one starts doing much better than the other.

Personally, I use both TIPS [via VIPSX in IRA] and a TBM [via VBMFX in 401(k)] fund b/c of limited 401(k) bond choices. I don't think I'd have a problem with using only TIPS and no nominal bonds, but I might change my mind when nominal high quality bonds start destroying TIPS.

From your first post, it looks like you're going to have a slightly-cola'd pension, so your inflation risk might is not as high as someone with a flat pension, and TIPS might not be as crucial to you as the person with the flat pension. If you think that you still have inflation risk, then I'd keep the TIPS, especially if your pension cola is capped at a low level. As for what % in each bond account, it's impossible to know now what will turn out to be the best, so 50/50 might not be a bad starting point, and 75 % ILB/ 50% BM wouldn't be bad either. Just pick something you think you'll be able to stick to.

- Alec

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Old 11-02-2007, 05:47 PM   #3
Confused about dryer sheets
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7
Thank you Alec. The ILB was up .86% today and the BMF was up .23%. I will read the conversations you have linked to your message. I am leaning towards your advise and thinking 75% ILB and 25% BMF. I watch these things so closely, if I see a trend developing over a period of time and easily switch funds around.
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