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Tips and treasuries or Wellsley?...or?
Old 04-03-2013, 12:40 PM   #1
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Tips and treasuries or Wellsley?...or?

Hi everyone,

I could sure use some input regarding the bond section of our investments. They are all in the non-taxable accounts. They represent 60% of our investment portfolio, and consist of:

50% Vanguard TIPS fund
50% Vanguard Intermediate Treasuries fund

The other 40% of our investment portfolio is:

60% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index
32% Vanguard FTSE All-world ex-US
8% Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US small cap

With all that has been going on in the news (mostly, over on the Boglehead Forum), I am feeling a bit apprehensive about treasuries. I am even thinking about gradually putting our funds into Wellsley. It sure would be easier for our heirs when we cross the metaphorical great waters.

We are 65 and 67 years old.

I am wondering - what are your concerns? How are you addressing them? Do you have any suggestions for me? I would really appreciate your contributions to this thread. Thank you!
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:21 PM   #2
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No perfect answer. In my 401k I have a stable value type fund so that covers my bonds, some fixed income in cash. My wife's IRA bonds are all in Wellesley & Star funds. Just our opinion/hope that VG will manage bonds better than I will. And we have a few ibonds. I have a COLAd pension. Not sure what anyone should do but in my portfolio I don't need treasuries.
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:26 PM   #3
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I think all of us are in a bit of a quandary. I have been "staying the course," but this situation with treasuries is unsettling.
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:03 PM   #4
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My bond "approach" is very similar to yakers. I'm fortunate to have a stable value fund in the 401(k). DW has significant exposure to Wellsley/Wellington. We too have I bonds. I also have a modest pension (non-cola'd). I have a small allocation to Vanguard's short-term bond fund. I think that is enough bond exposure (or similar fare). It seems to me that if bonds are a part of your overall strategy (AA) that "tweeking" them should be kept to a minimum. Market timing is rarely effective (unless you get lucky). I wish someone had the crystal ball needed to know what moves to make. I'm thinking good old diversification is still the best game to play here. Any suggestion I would have would be along those lines - diversify if you haven't already done so. I know very little about this stuff, so a big YMMV is in order. If you figure it out, be sure to let us know! Honestly, right now, I'm more concerned about stocks!
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:05 PM   #5
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I think that the Vanguard TIPS fund could be partially replaced with i-bonds (partially because there is a limit on the amount of i-bonds you can buy every year). And yields on CDs are competitive with the Vanguard Intermediate treasuries fund. So I would go the i-bond/CD direction to limit my downside (and that's what I have done).
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:15 PM   #6
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I think all of us are in a bit of a quandary. I have been "staying the course," but this situation with treasuries is unsettling.
What "situation" are you talking about?

If you are concerned with rising interest rates, you can either go very short duration and take reduced coupon income, or you can pursue alternatives. The most obvious alternative to me would simply be to find some CDs with reasonably attractive yields vs. treasuries and modest early surrender penalties.
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:17 PM   #7
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I think that the Vanguard TIPS fund could be partially replaced with i-bonds (partially because there is a limit on the amount of i-bonds you can buy every year). And yields on CDs are competitive with the Vanguard Intermediate treasuries fund. So I would go the i-bond/CD direction to limit my downside (and that's what I have done).
I hadn't thought of IBonds - thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:36 PM   #8
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I think all of us are in a bit of a quandary. I have been "staying the course," but this situation with treasuries is unsettling.
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What "situation" are you talking about?
+1. I haven't figured out what new "situation" you're talking about either. Was it the Bernstein thread on Bogleheads? The Bernstein interview was just another (good) "no place to hide, stay the course" piece it seemed...
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:44 PM   #9
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Is this the situation?

Fed's Williams: May start tapering QE this summer - MarketWatch
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:44 PM   #10
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While I'm not sure what situation you are referring to either, I haven't been keen on treasuries because the rewards are so small in relation to the risks (inflation, interest-rate). The best I have come up with so far is a mix of intermediate term corporate, high yield corporate with a bit of short term corporate and GNMAs (all funds). When Vanguard finally debuts its foreign bond fund I'll probably make that 10-30% of my fixed income allocation (still pondering).
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:05 PM   #11
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Or is this the situation?

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Old 04-03-2013, 03:06 PM   #12
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I sense a bit of dissension in the ranks...
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:22 PM   #13
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I sense a bit of dissension in the ranks...
Well, let us consult the ultimate source of all answers...
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:44 PM   #14
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You might consider Vanguard's relatively new short term inflation protected securities fund. I have moved some of my TIPS money there because I noticed that the duration on the regular Vanguard TIPs fund is rather long, so they can be expected to lose value when interest rates increase. Of course, the coupon goes from something like -1% to -2% so at current rates of inflation the short term TIPS fund's yield is not much better than a MM fund. However, it is attractive as a way to protect yourself if inflation and interest rates both increase.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:25 PM   #15
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What "situation" are you talking about?

If you are concerned with rising interest rates, you can either go very short duration and take reduced coupon income, or you can pursue alternatives. The most obvious alternative to me would simply be to find some CDs with reasonably attractive yields vs. treasuries and modest early surrender penalties.
Sorry I wasn't very clear...yes, the situation is interest rate risk that I am concerned about. Similarly to FireD, CD's and I-Bonds look more stable going forward. Right now I am inclined to open a Roth CD for this year (actually, 2012); We have a neighborhood bank nearby that had only one foreclosure during the recent housing crisis. I'll let the other parts of our portfolio stay put.

Some food for thought: John Bogle gave an interview (sorry, I can't provide a link) that he is concerned with what is happening with TIPS and Treasuries right now re: rising interest rates. There is, of course, lots of info on the Boglehead site.

Thanks a lot for your continuing response, Everyone!
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:20 AM   #16
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The real return on TIPS ranges from about negative 1.5% for 5-years to about +0.6% for 30-years.

FRB: H.15--Selected Interest Rates

A 30% holding of these in a portfolio from which one is targeting a 2-4% SWR puts an awful lot of pressure on the rest of the portfolio.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:51 AM   #17
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Look at the diversification you are getting in your equity holdings, but conversely you are very concentrated to govt securities on the bond side. Therefore, I would try to diversify a bit more on the bond side, maybe adding a diversified bond fund like PTTRX (or BOND etf), short-int term corporate, high yield/floating rate, and a perhaps foreign and emerging markets bond funds. Of course, not a bad idea to have some cash or short term equivalents.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:58 AM   #18
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I would make sure of your situation as oppossed to how much you leave your daughter
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:42 PM   #19
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The real return on TIPS ranges from about negative 1.5% for 5-years to about +0.6% for 30-years.

FRB: H.15--Selected Interest Rates

A 30% holding of these in a portfolio from which one is targeting a 2-4% SWR puts an awful lot of pressure on the rest of the portfolio.
I purchased the TIPS for my Roth IRA starting 2006. I'm inclined to check out our local credit union, which have relatively decent rates, and I would not have the concern about rising interest rates.
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:47 PM   #20
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Look at the diversification you are getting in your equity holdings, but conversely you are very concentrated to govt securities on the bond side. Therefore, I would try to diversify a bit more on the bond side, maybe adding a diversified bond fund like PTTRX (or BOND etf), short-int term corporate, high yield/floating rate, and a perhaps foreign and emerging markets bond funds. Of course, not a bad idea to have some cash or short term equivalents.
Thanks DFW,
I created the portfolio allocation with the Bogleheads around 2006 - before the crash. I will check out the bond funds you mentioned; but, I would like to keep those funds with Vanguard for ease of paperwork.
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