The U.S. Aggregate Bond Index lost 3.8% in April, bringing its year-to-date return to an agonizing -9.5%. The realization that bonds can lose big money, combined with the outlook for stubbornly high inflation and continued rate increases, is nudging bond investors to consider a wider scope of alternatives.
To use the old cliche' for lack of a better term, the bond market backed and filled in December.
Municipals reduced to “Neutral.” Near term risk of higher interest rates stemming from European side is too hard to ignore.
The global economy is stuck in a “muddle through” mode with developed and emerging countries showing divergence in terms of leading indicators. Despite this divergence, they share one thing in common: an upturn in inflation. How much more room there is for easing is a key determinant of asset market performance.
There were plenty of interesting facts to be discovered in reading the latest mutual fund flows report from the Investment Company Institute (ICI). The recently released report, which detailed the statistics for September, showed that there were nearly $15 billion of net redemptions from U.S. equity funds for the month. September, by the way, was a month where the S&P 500 rallied to an 8.8% gain. We have noted in the past that the public is generally a trend following herd that buys into market strength and sells on weakness.
Stock/bond Risk-reward relationship beginning to return to normal. Back in Q1 2009, performance differential between S&P 500 and 10 year T-bonds was at generational lows. In prior periods of bond superiority, stocks ultimately came soaring back. Expect to see stocks do much better over next 5 years.
So, over the long run, stocks are supposed to provide better returns than bonds as compensation for taking greater risk. Well the last 20, 30, and 40 year periods show that bond and stock returns have been at the smallest performance spreads ever. In some cases, bonds actually produced better returns. It’s pretty depressing huh?