Today’s “Investment News” headline (from Bloomberg) is designed to make you shiver in your income portfolio boots:
“Big fixed income shop prepares for the worst”…
The Bond Portfolio “Window Dressing” sell-off has begun.
Bond funds in general are now holding 8% of assets in cash, the article reports…highest since the financial crisis, and 1999, even. Professional Bond Traders certainly have reason to worry; closed end fund income investors not so much.
The article is reporting fear of lower market values with respect to existing bonds, particularly the higher yield variety…. big players in the bond market are hoarding cash (even selling existing holdings at losses in the process).
Bond Traders and Fund Managers look foolish as inventory market values fall. The cash hoard is their way of preparing to buy similar paper at higher yields sometime in the future and/or to buy back “old” bonds after the fall in price.
In the meantime, they are holding zero interest rate cash in anticipation of the higher yields… and could care less about the negative impact this behavior has on portfolio yields.
This is the result of what I call “Total Return Crossover”… the absurd application of market value growth analysis, instead of income development criteria, to primarily income security portfolios. (An analytical atrocity that is reinforced and encouraged by retirement plan regulators.)
So bond and Income Mutual Fund managers choose to actually lose your money now to look less foolish than the competition later. This “panic selling” by professionals leads to irrational, “knee jerk” reactions in amateurs.
What I did not read in the Bloomberg “disaster scenario” (and this should calm all the frayed nerves) was any indication or expectation of default on the interest paid by the bond issuers. This is the key issue with income investing…
Bonds are corporate and government debt securities, people… so long as they pay the interest why worry about the market value?
Wall Street is always more concerned about appearances than it is about income generation. And the Masters of the Universe really do have a problem… OMG, what this could do to those year-end bonuses…
But we (the average investors out here) can simply reinvest our current CEF income in any number of portfolios of bonds, preferred stocks, loans, notes, etc., selling at discounts, not only from their maturity value, but also from their combined Net Asset Values. Read that again please.
Remember, Closed End Income Fund portfolios aren’t influenced directly by either the fear (or greed) of individual investors… they are under a “protective dome”, if you will, that is subject to all forms of volatility for a vast array of reasons.
But an Income CEF, for example, becomes the totally liquid trading vehicle for a portfolio that could contain hundreds of totally illiquid individual securities… do you believe in magic? Be it Magic, or genius, who cares. We, mere mortals that we are, can jump on the lower prices that chill the blood of Wall Street’s Master Class.
Closed End Fund investors are uniquely positioned to take advantage of both the lower prices and the higher yields that exist right now. Market Cycle Investment Management users have done it before, right?
Remember the fall in CEF prices from early 2007 (higher rates caused these) through early March 2009 (even in the face of the lowest interest rates ever)… and the ensuing rise through October 2011?
Well, do you really think that the anticipated one percentage point rise in interest rates over the next year or so will cause Financial Crisis #2?
Isn’t it great when Wall Street’s pain becomes fuel for the small investor’s gain…. but only if you take advantage of the lower price, higher yield scenario that is staring you in the face as you read this message..
Yes, YOU can be the Master of this Universe!