Originally Posted by ArmchairMillionaire23
This is my first post (other than the
So my question is - If I were looking to diversify my bond holdings, does anyone know of two low cost (index?) bond funds that have a negative correlation so I could split my 40% bond allocation into two groups of 20% to be more broadly diversified? Or should I just keep it to total bond market funds? (I have four different retirement accounts - previous employer 401-k, current 401-k, Roth IRA and a taxable account that could also be used for an emergency fund)
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
I would avoid bond funds. The diversified one's are holding so called "investment grade debt" that are going to zero. Passive bond funds/ETFs are very dangerous to own now. They offer very little yield versus the risk to hold them. You are better off buying CDs than taking a risk with passive bond funds/ETFs.
If you want exposure to bonds, you need to be very selective and ignore the bond ratings and look at metrics like credit default swap implied ratings (what it costs to insure bonds from default) and income statements and balance sheets. For example Macy's bonds have a BBB- rating (low investment grade) and a company like Netflix has a BB- (mid junk rating).
I'm willing to bet that Netflix survives longer than Macy's and Netflix bond holders will get full redemption price of their short/medium term notes. I can't say the same for Macy's bond holders. The bond market agrees with me as the BB- rated Netflix 2025 notes sell above par (even after the sell-off) with a YTM of 4.7%
Macy's BBB- rated 2023 notes trade at a YTM of 15.14% after this recovery.
Macy's was only recently downgraded to BBB- which also tells you how poor that bond ratings are an indicator of quality.
So what does this mean for passive bond fund holders? You need to select bond funds that are sector specific such as technology, healthcare, pharma, or biotech. What we will start to see soon are massive defaults in the energy, retail, and commercial real estate sectors. You really should avoid those sectors or funds that invest in those sectors.
What I do is avoid funds altogether and build my own portfolio of short and medium term corporate bonds/notes and FDIC insured CDs with a combination of high yield and investment grade notes that I hand pick based on their overall financial health and business model. This eliminates the market risk associated with owning bond funds. I only add bonds/notes to my portfolio when they are undervalued relative to CDs and treasuries.