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Investing in a Rising Rate Environment
How Rising Interest Rates Affect Bond Portfolios
By Baird’s Private Wealth Management Research
Summary
With historically low interest rates and the unprecedented monetary
and fiscal stimulus measures taken to combat the market downturn of
2008–2009, many believe that the Fed has no choice but to begin raising
interest rates in the near future. That is a normal course of action and
signals that the Fed believes the economy is on sounder footing. Yet, the
prospect of rising interest rates provides much consternation for bond
investors, who may be disserved by such action. In this paper, we seek
to analyze recent periods of rising interest rates, evaluate how bonds
performed and dispel myths that bonds make for a poor investment in
these periods.
Understanding Bond Performance
Many factors may influence the performance of a bond portfolio, but
changes in interest rates and corresponding bond yields remain the principal
drivers. All too often investors are overly concerned that when interest
rates rise, the prices of their bonds will fall. In fact, this is a mathematical
truth – the directional changes of interest rates and bond prices are inversely
related. Despite the intuitive nature of a bond (collect periodic interest
payments and reclaim par value at maturity), these instruments can be quite
complex. By focusing solely on short-term price reductions, investors can
miss the opportunity to reinvest proceeds in bonds that offer higher yields.
Understanding the concept of total return is critical when investing in bonds:
total return measures both price movements and income received. This paper will
highlight why a total return perspective is needed, particularly in periods of
rising interest rates.
- 2 -
Identifying Rising
Rate Environments
The Federal Funds Rate, a target
set by the Federal Reserve (Fed),
is a reliable proxy for interest rate
movements over time. This is the rate
at which banks can lend money to
one another, essentially dictating how
“expensive” money is. Within the last
20 years, there have been three
distinct periods when the Fed went on
a campaign of raising the Fed Funds
Rate target (areas shaded in Graph 1).
The duration and magnitude vary
based on economic conditions. For
example, the 1994–1995 increases
lasted 14 months with a 3.0% rise in
rates, while the 2004–2006 campaign
lasted 25 months with a rate increase
of 4.25%.
Adjusting this rate is among the most
effective tools the Fed has to govern
the economy. Nevertheless, this is a
tool that affects both stock and bond
investments. It is through analysis of
these three time periods (a total of 51
months) that we can begin to gain a
historical perspective of how bonds
truly react to rising interest rates.
Focus on Total Return
The relationship between positive
income (or yield) effects and negative
price effects ultimately determines
how bonds perform in rising rate
environments. Baird analyzed an
index representing a broad mix of
government and corporate bonds
(the Barclays Capital Intermediate
Government/Credit Index) to
determine how price, yield and total
returns changed during these three
periods (Table 1). As expected, price
return was negative in the majority
of the 51 months – 68% to be exact.
Conversely, income return was
positive in each month. In isolation,
both price return and income return
provide an incomplete picture of how
an investor’s portfolio may have
performed – one measure is favorable,
the other is not. Total return, the
TABLE 1:
Decomposing Total Return in Rising Rate Environments
% of MonthsWith
Positive Returns
% of MonthsWith
Negative Returns
Average Monthly
Return
Price Return 32% 68% -0.3%
Income Return 100% 0% 0.5%
Total Return 64% 36% 0.2%
Source: Barclays Capital; Baird Analysis
9.0%
8.0%
7.0%
6.0%
5.0%
4.0%
3.0%
2.0%
1.0%
0.0%
Dec-05
Dec-07
Dec-09
Dec-89
Dec-03
Dec-91
Dec-93
Dec-95
Dec-97
Dec-99
Dec-01GRAPH 1:
Federal Funds Rate (1990–2010)
Source: Federal Reserve Board; Baird Analysis
- 3 -
combination of price and income
returns, is a more accurate measure of
whether bond investments rose or fell.
Our analysis shows that total return was
positive in 64% of the observations, to
the tune of a 0.2% average monthly
return. To be sure, these are relatively
muted returns, but not nearly as dire
as what would be expected based upon
a singular focus on price return.
To visually illustrate the performance of
bonds in a rising interest rate environment,
Graph 2 shows the cumulative
performance of the index over the three
rising interest rate periods. As you can
see, price return was negative, as
expected, but income performance
helped drive total returns higher during
each of the three periods. The duration
of the rising interest rate period should
also be noted. Depending on the
environment, the Fed may act swiftly or
may be more methodical in its actions.
For example, the most recent rising
interest rate cycle (2003–2006) lasted
approximately 25 months, delivering
a total return of 4.9% for the index
over that time period. In contrast, the
1994–1995 cycle lasted only 14 months
and delivered a total return for the index
of 1.8%. The approach that the Fed uses
has implications for bond investors,
particularly when determining whether
to have a preference for bonds or cash
during the cycle. The more prolonged
and methodical the Fed’s actions are,
the more compelling bonds are relative
to cash.
Diversification Works
The investable bond universe is very
expansive, with more than one thousand
issuers and tens of thousands of bonds
available. Major issuers of bonds include
governments, government agencies and
corporations. Each bond is subject to
different risks and rewards, and therefore
performs differently in varying market
environments. Diversifying your portfolio
by bond type can often help limit the
GRAPH 2:
Price Return (PR), Income Return (IR) and Total Return (TR) in Rising Rate Environments
Source: Barclays Capital; Baird Analysis
IR:
+7.9%
TR:
+1.8%
PR:
-5.9%
IR:
+6.7%
TR:
+2.5%
PR:
-3.9%
IR:
+9.3%
TR:
+4.9%
PR:
-4.7%
1/1/94 – 2/28/95
Duration: 14 months
6/1/99 – 5/31/00
Duration: 12 months
6/1/04 – 6/30/06
Duration: 25 months
15%
10%
5%
0%
-5%
-10%
15%
10%
5%
0%
-5%
-10%
15%
10%
5%
0%
-5%
-10%
CumulativeReturn
1/1/942/1/943/1/944/1/945/1/946/1/947/1/948/1/949/1/9410/1/9411/1/9412/1/941/1/952/1/95
5/1/996/1/997/1/998/1/999/1/9910/1/9911/1/9912/1/991/1/002/1/003/1/004/1/005/1/00
5/1/047/1/049/1/0411/1/041/1/053/1/055/1/057/1/059/1/0511/1/051/1/063/1/065/1/06
- 4 -
impacts of rising interest rates. Table 2
shows the performance of various types
of bonds during periods of rising interest
rates. For example, corporate bonds
outperformed Treasury bonds in two
periods, but lagged in one. It is difficult
to generalize what segment of the bond
market performs best when rates are
increasing; therefore, it is important to
have exposure to many different bond
types. Additionally, owning bonds with
different maturity ranges provides a level
of diversification. Generally, shorter/
intermediate maturity bonds offer
better principal protection than longer
maturity bonds.
While focusing on how different bond
types perform during these periods is a
prudent exercise, it is also important to
consider how bond types perform over
time through rising and falling interest
rate cycles. Strategic portfolio allocations
to bonds should be based on longer-term
objectives and market expectations.
Graph 3 shows the 10-year annualized
returns of various bond types. Investors
that had broader exposure to different
bond types generally would have
outperformed cash by a wide margin over
the last 10 years. It is extremely hard to
predict when to tactically move from
bonds to cash; therefore, a longer-term
strategic allocation to bonds is typically
the best approach.
Professional Bond Management
Professional bond investors, either
managing a mutual fund or separate
account, often employ a total return
philosophy using a variety of methods.
They use their experience to evaluate the
current marketplace and incorporate
future expectations before constructing
the most suitable portfolio. The need for
active management of bond portfolios
increases when the consequences of
inaction rise. It is important to note that
each of the Fed’s monetary tightening
campaigns was accompanied by a
different economic backdrop.
TABLE 2:
Performance by Bond Type During Rising Rate Environments
CumulativeTotal
Return
(1/1/94–2/28/95)
CumulativeTotal
Return
(6/1/99–5/31/00)
CumulativeTotal
Return
(6/1/04–6/30/06)
ByBondType
Broad U.S.Taxable Bonds
	 Treasury Bonds
	 Agency Bonds
   	 Corporate Bonds
1.4%
0.5%
0.8%
0.9%
2.1%
3.4%
1.6%
0.0%
6.5%
5.7%
6.2%
6.4%
Int’l Bond Market 10.5% -6.2% 9.2%
High-Yield Bonds 3.8% -3.2% 17.9%
U.S. Municipal Bonds 1.7% 0.7% 5.2%
Cash 5.2% 5.2% 6.2%
ByMaturity
Short Govt/Corp Bonds 3.3% 4.0% 4.2%
Intermed Govt/Corp Bonds 1.8% 2.5% 4.9%
Long Govt/Corp Bonds -1.9% 0.7% 10.2%
Source: Barclays Capital; Baird Analysis. See appendix for benchmark definitions.
2.3%
4.8%
5.5%
8.9%
6.7%
0.0%
2.0%
4.0%
6.0%
8.0%
10.0%
Cash Municipal
Bonds
Govt/Corp
Bonds
High-Yield
Bonds
Global
Bonds
Source: Barclays Capital. See appendix for benchmark definitions.
GRAPH 3:
Ten-Year Asset Class Returns (as of 12/31/10)
- 5 -
What worked in one period is not
guaranteed to work in the next.
Outsourcing the management of your
bond portfolio to experienced bond
investors during these uncertain times
is a suitable option to consider.
There are many tools that portfolio
managers have at their disposal. Table 3
lists a few broad strategies that may
prove effective in offsetting some of the
negative effects of rising interest rates
on bond prices.
Managers may attempt to limit the
expected price impact (i.e., shorten the
duration of the portfolio), diversify into
bonds that are less susceptible to rate
changes or find opportunities in
mispriced bonds. Through prudent use
of these strategies, managers may be
able to increase potential performance
relative to benchmarks or attempt to
avoid those areas most impacted by
rate increases.
Where Are We Now?
The Treasury yield curve represents the
additional yield that investors require
when buying longer maturity bonds.
The shape and steepness of the yield
curve is useful when determining
whether to position a portfolio in
short-, intermediate-, or long-term
bonds. Currently the spread, or the
difference in yield, between 2-yr and
10-yr maturities is 2.7 percentage
points, well above the historical average
of 0.9% to 1.2%, indicating a very
steep yield curve. It is expected that if
the U.S. economy strengthens, the Fed
will first reduce some of the monetary
stimulus and then at some point
increase the Federal Funds Rate target,
causing an increase in short-term rates.
All else being equal, this will push the
short end of the yield curve higher,
reducing the steepness of the yield
curve. In similar historical periods,
yields on the intermediate and long end
of the curve rose to some extent, but
did not rise as much as the short end.
It is a common practice for investors to
avoid longer-maturity bonds in rising
rate periods, but given the steepness of
the yield curve, an increase in short-
term rates is likely to have a lower-than-
typical impact on the intermediate and
long end of the curve as spreads begin
to normalize. We stress that while
greater total return opportunities may
be presented further along the yield
curve, these bonds come with additional
risks (namely heightened sensitivity
to rate movements). Therefore, it is
important to speak with your Financial
Advisor about your risk tolerance in
relation to your bond investments.
TABLE 3:
Strategies Employed by Active Bond Managers
Investment
Strategy
Description
Duration
Management
Reducing the duration of a portfolio can lessen its sensitivity to interest rate changes
Yield Curve
Management
Rates may not increase in tandem along the maturity spectrum, making some areas 	
more attractive than others
Bond
Selection
Finding undervalued bonds can add the potential for price appreciation
Investing
Globally
Not all countries will experience the same degree of monetary tightening as the	
United States
Sector
Allocation
Selecting sectors that may have less of a price impact from rising rates 	
(e.g., some non-government or corporate bond types)
- 6 -
Conclusion
It is virtually impossible to forecast when the Fed will increase rates, how swift or
protracted its actions will be, and what the exact impact will be on bond returns.
We do know that bonds play an important role in a client’s portfolio – be it
through capital preservation, providing income, diversification, or some
combination thereof. Our analysis of prior periods of rising interest rates suggests
that increases in yield more than offset decreases in price. To be sure, there will be
periods of negative price movements and total returns may be somewhat muted;
however, these concerns do not trump the importance of a strategic allocation to
bonds in a portfolio. It is our opinion that a diversified bond portfolio with
exposure to various sectors and managed by a skilled portfolio management team
is a prudent action in these uncertain times.
If you have questions or need more information, please contact your Financial Advisor.
Indices are unmanaged and are used to measure and report performance of various sectors of the market. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results and
diversification does not ensure against loss. Direct investment in indices is not available.
Foreign investments involve additional risks such as currency rate fluctuations, the potential for political and economic instability and different and sometimes less strict
financial reporting standards and regulation. While investments in non-investment-grade debt securities (commonly referred to as high-yield or junk bonds) typically offer
higher yields than investment-grade securities, they also include greater risks, including increased credit risk and the increased risk of default or bankruptcy. Additionally,
mortgage- and asset-backed securities include interest rate and prepayment risks that are more pronounced than those of other fixed income securities.
Benchmark Definitions
Barclays Capital Intermediate Government/Credit Bond Index (Govt/Corp Bonds): Composed of approximately 3,500 publicly issued corporate
and U.S. government debt issues rated Baa or better, with at least one year to maturity and at least $1 million par outstanding. The index is weighted by
the market value of the issues included in the index. The index has duration of a little more than three years and a maturity equal to slightly more than
four years.
Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Bond Index (Global Bonds): The Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Index provides a broad-based measure of
the global investment-grade fixed income markets. The three major components of this index are the U.S. Aggregate, the Pan-European Aggregate and
the Asian-Pacific Aggregate Indices. The index also includes Eurodollar and Euro-Yen corporate bonds, Canadian Issues and USD investment-grade
144A securities.
Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Bond Index ex US (Int’l Bonds): A subset of the Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Bond Index that excludes
U.S. Bonds.
Barclays Capital High Yield U.S. Corporate (High-Yield Bonds): The Barclays Capital High Yield Index covers the universe of fixed-rate, non-
investment-grade debt. Pay-in-kind (PIK) bonds, Eurobonds and debt issues from countries designated as emerging markets (e.g., Argentina, Mexico,
Venezuela, etc.) are excluded, but Yankee and global bonds (SEC registered) of issuers in non-EMG countries are included. Original issue zeroes and
step-up coupon structures are also included.
Barclays Capital Municipal Bond Index (Municipal Bonds): A broad market performance benchmark for the tax-exempt bond market. For inclusion,
bonds must have a minimum credit rating of at least Baa, an outstanding par value of at least $5 million and be issued as part of a transaction of at least
$50 million. Bonds must have been issued after 12/31/90 and have a remaining maturity of at least one year.
Citigroup Treasury Bill 3 Month (Cash): The Citigroup 3-Month T-Bill Index is an unmanaged index of three-month Treasury bills. Unless otherwise
noted, index returns reflect the reinvestment of dividends and capital gains, if any, but do not reflect fees, brokerage commissions or other expenses of
investing. It is not possible to invest directly in an unmanaged index.
©2011 Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated. rwbaird.com 800-RW-BAIRD MC-32314. First use: 04/11.

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How Rising Rates Affect Bonds: Total Return Perspective Key for Investors

  • 1. Investing in a Rising Rate Environment How Rising Interest Rates Affect Bond Portfolios By Baird’s Private Wealth Management Research Summary With historically low interest rates and the unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus measures taken to combat the market downturn of 2008–2009, many believe that the Fed has no choice but to begin raising interest rates in the near future. That is a normal course of action and signals that the Fed believes the economy is on sounder footing. Yet, the prospect of rising interest rates provides much consternation for bond investors, who may be disserved by such action. In this paper, we seek to analyze recent periods of rising interest rates, evaluate how bonds performed and dispel myths that bonds make for a poor investment in these periods. Understanding Bond Performance Many factors may influence the performance of a bond portfolio, but changes in interest rates and corresponding bond yields remain the principal drivers. All too often investors are overly concerned that when interest rates rise, the prices of their bonds will fall. In fact, this is a mathematical truth – the directional changes of interest rates and bond prices are inversely related. Despite the intuitive nature of a bond (collect periodic interest payments and reclaim par value at maturity), these instruments can be quite complex. By focusing solely on short-term price reductions, investors can miss the opportunity to reinvest proceeds in bonds that offer higher yields. Understanding the concept of total return is critical when investing in bonds: total return measures both price movements and income received. This paper will highlight why a total return perspective is needed, particularly in periods of rising interest rates.
  • 2. - 2 - Identifying Rising Rate Environments The Federal Funds Rate, a target set by the Federal Reserve (Fed), is a reliable proxy for interest rate movements over time. This is the rate at which banks can lend money to one another, essentially dictating how “expensive” money is. Within the last 20 years, there have been three distinct periods when the Fed went on a campaign of raising the Fed Funds Rate target (areas shaded in Graph 1). The duration and magnitude vary based on economic conditions. For example, the 1994–1995 increases lasted 14 months with a 3.0% rise in rates, while the 2004–2006 campaign lasted 25 months with a rate increase of 4.25%. Adjusting this rate is among the most effective tools the Fed has to govern the economy. Nevertheless, this is a tool that affects both stock and bond investments. It is through analysis of these three time periods (a total of 51 months) that we can begin to gain a historical perspective of how bonds truly react to rising interest rates. Focus on Total Return The relationship between positive income (or yield) effects and negative price effects ultimately determines how bonds perform in rising rate environments. Baird analyzed an index representing a broad mix of government and corporate bonds (the Barclays Capital Intermediate Government/Credit Index) to determine how price, yield and total returns changed during these three periods (Table 1). As expected, price return was negative in the majority of the 51 months – 68% to be exact. Conversely, income return was positive in each month. In isolation, both price return and income return provide an incomplete picture of how an investor’s portfolio may have performed – one measure is favorable, the other is not. Total return, the TABLE 1: Decomposing Total Return in Rising Rate Environments % of MonthsWith Positive Returns % of MonthsWith Negative Returns Average Monthly Return Price Return 32% 68% -0.3% Income Return 100% 0% 0.5% Total Return 64% 36% 0.2% Source: Barclays Capital; Baird Analysis 9.0% 8.0% 7.0% 6.0% 5.0% 4.0% 3.0% 2.0% 1.0% 0.0% Dec-05 Dec-07 Dec-09 Dec-89 Dec-03 Dec-91 Dec-93 Dec-95 Dec-97 Dec-99 Dec-01GRAPH 1: Federal Funds Rate (1990–2010) Source: Federal Reserve Board; Baird Analysis
  • 3. - 3 - combination of price and income returns, is a more accurate measure of whether bond investments rose or fell. Our analysis shows that total return was positive in 64% of the observations, to the tune of a 0.2% average monthly return. To be sure, these are relatively muted returns, but not nearly as dire as what would be expected based upon a singular focus on price return. To visually illustrate the performance of bonds in a rising interest rate environment, Graph 2 shows the cumulative performance of the index over the three rising interest rate periods. As you can see, price return was negative, as expected, but income performance helped drive total returns higher during each of the three periods. The duration of the rising interest rate period should also be noted. Depending on the environment, the Fed may act swiftly or may be more methodical in its actions. For example, the most recent rising interest rate cycle (2003–2006) lasted approximately 25 months, delivering a total return of 4.9% for the index over that time period. In contrast, the 1994–1995 cycle lasted only 14 months and delivered a total return for the index of 1.8%. The approach that the Fed uses has implications for bond investors, particularly when determining whether to have a preference for bonds or cash during the cycle. The more prolonged and methodical the Fed’s actions are, the more compelling bonds are relative to cash. Diversification Works The investable bond universe is very expansive, with more than one thousand issuers and tens of thousands of bonds available. Major issuers of bonds include governments, government agencies and corporations. Each bond is subject to different risks and rewards, and therefore performs differently in varying market environments. Diversifying your portfolio by bond type can often help limit the GRAPH 2: Price Return (PR), Income Return (IR) and Total Return (TR) in Rising Rate Environments Source: Barclays Capital; Baird Analysis IR: +7.9% TR: +1.8% PR: -5.9% IR: +6.7% TR: +2.5% PR: -3.9% IR: +9.3% TR: +4.9% PR: -4.7% 1/1/94 – 2/28/95 Duration: 14 months 6/1/99 – 5/31/00 Duration: 12 months 6/1/04 – 6/30/06 Duration: 25 months 15% 10% 5% 0% -5% -10% 15% 10% 5% 0% -5% -10% 15% 10% 5% 0% -5% -10% CumulativeReturn 1/1/942/1/943/1/944/1/945/1/946/1/947/1/948/1/949/1/9410/1/9411/1/9412/1/941/1/952/1/95 5/1/996/1/997/1/998/1/999/1/9910/1/9911/1/9912/1/991/1/002/1/003/1/004/1/005/1/00 5/1/047/1/049/1/0411/1/041/1/053/1/055/1/057/1/059/1/0511/1/051/1/063/1/065/1/06
  • 4. - 4 - impacts of rising interest rates. Table 2 shows the performance of various types of bonds during periods of rising interest rates. For example, corporate bonds outperformed Treasury bonds in two periods, but lagged in one. It is difficult to generalize what segment of the bond market performs best when rates are increasing; therefore, it is important to have exposure to many different bond types. Additionally, owning bonds with different maturity ranges provides a level of diversification. Generally, shorter/ intermediate maturity bonds offer better principal protection than longer maturity bonds. While focusing on how different bond types perform during these periods is a prudent exercise, it is also important to consider how bond types perform over time through rising and falling interest rate cycles. Strategic portfolio allocations to bonds should be based on longer-term objectives and market expectations. Graph 3 shows the 10-year annualized returns of various bond types. Investors that had broader exposure to different bond types generally would have outperformed cash by a wide margin over the last 10 years. It is extremely hard to predict when to tactically move from bonds to cash; therefore, a longer-term strategic allocation to bonds is typically the best approach. Professional Bond Management Professional bond investors, either managing a mutual fund or separate account, often employ a total return philosophy using a variety of methods. They use their experience to evaluate the current marketplace and incorporate future expectations before constructing the most suitable portfolio. The need for active management of bond portfolios increases when the consequences of inaction rise. It is important to note that each of the Fed’s monetary tightening campaigns was accompanied by a different economic backdrop. TABLE 2: Performance by Bond Type During Rising Rate Environments CumulativeTotal Return (1/1/94–2/28/95) CumulativeTotal Return (6/1/99–5/31/00) CumulativeTotal Return (6/1/04–6/30/06) ByBondType Broad U.S.Taxable Bonds Treasury Bonds Agency Bonds Corporate Bonds 1.4% 0.5% 0.8% 0.9% 2.1% 3.4% 1.6% 0.0% 6.5% 5.7% 6.2% 6.4% Int’l Bond Market 10.5% -6.2% 9.2% High-Yield Bonds 3.8% -3.2% 17.9% U.S. Municipal Bonds 1.7% 0.7% 5.2% Cash 5.2% 5.2% 6.2% ByMaturity Short Govt/Corp Bonds 3.3% 4.0% 4.2% Intermed Govt/Corp Bonds 1.8% 2.5% 4.9% Long Govt/Corp Bonds -1.9% 0.7% 10.2% Source: Barclays Capital; Baird Analysis. See appendix for benchmark definitions. 2.3% 4.8% 5.5% 8.9% 6.7% 0.0% 2.0% 4.0% 6.0% 8.0% 10.0% Cash Municipal Bonds Govt/Corp Bonds High-Yield Bonds Global Bonds Source: Barclays Capital. See appendix for benchmark definitions. GRAPH 3: Ten-Year Asset Class Returns (as of 12/31/10)
  • 5. - 5 - What worked in one period is not guaranteed to work in the next. Outsourcing the management of your bond portfolio to experienced bond investors during these uncertain times is a suitable option to consider. There are many tools that portfolio managers have at their disposal. Table 3 lists a few broad strategies that may prove effective in offsetting some of the negative effects of rising interest rates on bond prices. Managers may attempt to limit the expected price impact (i.e., shorten the duration of the portfolio), diversify into bonds that are less susceptible to rate changes or find opportunities in mispriced bonds. Through prudent use of these strategies, managers may be able to increase potential performance relative to benchmarks or attempt to avoid those areas most impacted by rate increases. Where Are We Now? The Treasury yield curve represents the additional yield that investors require when buying longer maturity bonds. The shape and steepness of the yield curve is useful when determining whether to position a portfolio in short-, intermediate-, or long-term bonds. Currently the spread, or the difference in yield, between 2-yr and 10-yr maturities is 2.7 percentage points, well above the historical average of 0.9% to 1.2%, indicating a very steep yield curve. It is expected that if the U.S. economy strengthens, the Fed will first reduce some of the monetary stimulus and then at some point increase the Federal Funds Rate target, causing an increase in short-term rates. All else being equal, this will push the short end of the yield curve higher, reducing the steepness of the yield curve. In similar historical periods, yields on the intermediate and long end of the curve rose to some extent, but did not rise as much as the short end. It is a common practice for investors to avoid longer-maturity bonds in rising rate periods, but given the steepness of the yield curve, an increase in short- term rates is likely to have a lower-than- typical impact on the intermediate and long end of the curve as spreads begin to normalize. We stress that while greater total return opportunities may be presented further along the yield curve, these bonds come with additional risks (namely heightened sensitivity to rate movements). Therefore, it is important to speak with your Financial Advisor about your risk tolerance in relation to your bond investments. TABLE 3: Strategies Employed by Active Bond Managers Investment Strategy Description Duration Management Reducing the duration of a portfolio can lessen its sensitivity to interest rate changes Yield Curve Management Rates may not increase in tandem along the maturity spectrum, making some areas more attractive than others Bond Selection Finding undervalued bonds can add the potential for price appreciation Investing Globally Not all countries will experience the same degree of monetary tightening as the United States Sector Allocation Selecting sectors that may have less of a price impact from rising rates (e.g., some non-government or corporate bond types)
  • 6. - 6 - Conclusion It is virtually impossible to forecast when the Fed will increase rates, how swift or protracted its actions will be, and what the exact impact will be on bond returns. We do know that bonds play an important role in a client’s portfolio – be it through capital preservation, providing income, diversification, or some combination thereof. Our analysis of prior periods of rising interest rates suggests that increases in yield more than offset decreases in price. To be sure, there will be periods of negative price movements and total returns may be somewhat muted; however, these concerns do not trump the importance of a strategic allocation to bonds in a portfolio. It is our opinion that a diversified bond portfolio with exposure to various sectors and managed by a skilled portfolio management team is a prudent action in these uncertain times. If you have questions or need more information, please contact your Financial Advisor. Indices are unmanaged and are used to measure and report performance of various sectors of the market. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results and diversification does not ensure against loss. Direct investment in indices is not available. Foreign investments involve additional risks such as currency rate fluctuations, the potential for political and economic instability and different and sometimes less strict financial reporting standards and regulation. While investments in non-investment-grade debt securities (commonly referred to as high-yield or junk bonds) typically offer higher yields than investment-grade securities, they also include greater risks, including increased credit risk and the increased risk of default or bankruptcy. Additionally, mortgage- and asset-backed securities include interest rate and prepayment risks that are more pronounced than those of other fixed income securities. Benchmark Definitions Barclays Capital Intermediate Government/Credit Bond Index (Govt/Corp Bonds): Composed of approximately 3,500 publicly issued corporate and U.S. government debt issues rated Baa or better, with at least one year to maturity and at least $1 million par outstanding. The index is weighted by the market value of the issues included in the index. The index has duration of a little more than three years and a maturity equal to slightly more than four years. Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Bond Index (Global Bonds): The Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Index provides a broad-based measure of the global investment-grade fixed income markets. The three major components of this index are the U.S. Aggregate, the Pan-European Aggregate and the Asian-Pacific Aggregate Indices. The index also includes Eurodollar and Euro-Yen corporate bonds, Canadian Issues and USD investment-grade 144A securities. Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Bond Index ex US (Int’l Bonds): A subset of the Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Bond Index that excludes U.S. Bonds. Barclays Capital High Yield U.S. Corporate (High-Yield Bonds): The Barclays Capital High Yield Index covers the universe of fixed-rate, non- investment-grade debt. Pay-in-kind (PIK) bonds, Eurobonds and debt issues from countries designated as emerging markets (e.g., Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, etc.) are excluded, but Yankee and global bonds (SEC registered) of issuers in non-EMG countries are included. Original issue zeroes and step-up coupon structures are also included. Barclays Capital Municipal Bond Index (Municipal Bonds): A broad market performance benchmark for the tax-exempt bond market. For inclusion, bonds must have a minimum credit rating of at least Baa, an outstanding par value of at least $5 million and be issued as part of a transaction of at least $50 million. Bonds must have been issued after 12/31/90 and have a remaining maturity of at least one year. Citigroup Treasury Bill 3 Month (Cash): The Citigroup 3-Month T-Bill Index is an unmanaged index of three-month Treasury bills. Unless otherwise noted, index returns reflect the reinvestment of dividends and capital gains, if any, but do not reflect fees, brokerage commissions or other expenses of investing. It is not possible to invest directly in an unmanaged index. ©2011 Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated. rwbaird.com 800-RW-BAIRD MC-32314. First use: 04/11.