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In Fixed Income, the Dip is Not Always an Opportunity

Today’s Chart of the Day is the five-year performance of the PIMCO over 25-year Zero Coupon Treasury (ZROC) in blue versus the 20-year US Treasury Yield in orange.  Since the peak at $189 in 2020, the value of the PIMCO fund has declined 70% to only $90.  

According to VettaFi, “ZROZ invests exclusively in . . . the final principal payments of U.S. Treasuries with at least 25 years remaining until maturity. As such, this product will be very sensitive to changes in interest rate movements, performing very well when rates fall but likely struggling if rates begin to climb.”

The reason for the volatility is the fact that there are no interest payments during the life of the loan, and only one payment of principal at the end, there is no chance to reinvest periodic interest payments at higher rates when rates rise. Or conversely, run the risk of reinvesting the interest payment at a lower rate when rates decline.

Why invest in such a product you may ask? Where does the stated return of 3.80% come from? Well, as an example, when a zero coupon bond was issued it could be purchased for $40, then held for 25 years until you get $100 back at maturity.  

When the 20-year rates were 1.00% in the summer of 2020, the 3.80% guaranteed appreciation in your principal for the 25 years looked very attractive, hence the near doubling of the price.  However, when rates are at their current yield of 4.00% the price fell just as dramatically and is now back to its normal “pre-pandemic” price. 

What can we learn?

We can learn that in fixed income, just because bond’s price is down 70%, this does not mean it is “on sale” or provide an opportunity to “buy the dip.” The 3.80% yield you see is what you get when you hold it to maturity. No more, no less. The rate will not change and therefore provides no real “buying opportunity.”

This is evident in this investment, since despite the wild ride up and back down, the investor simply is back to where they started, earning their original 3.8% for the next 25 years.  

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Why Indexing Works

The theory that index/passive funds perform better than actively managed funds is backed by the fact that 90% of active funds underperformed their benchmarks over the last 10 years. So, it begs the question, “Why?”

Firstly, index funds do not have the added expenses of investment analysists and advisors, lowering overall cost and ultimately leaving more returns for investors to keep.

The chart above from S&P Dow Jones Indices shows the average actively managed fund costs 0.68% versus index funds of only 0.06%. So, right off the bat, every year the actively managed fund starts 0.62% in the hole.

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Least Regretted Majors

As high school seniors finish out the school year, some may be asked, “What are you going to major in at college?” Today’s Chart of the Day comes from CNBC.com who surveyed 1,500 job seekers for the percentage of graduates who would choose the same major again. The article also included the “most regretted” majors; however, you’ll have to click on the link to see that.

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Bonds to ETFs

We often talk about how over the last 10+ years investors have, in general, been moving out of mutual funds and into Exchange Traded Funds, also known as ETFs. However, this year the pattern is even more prevalent with bonds. So far this year, a record $446 billion exited bond mutual funds and went into bond ETFs and bank accounts.

Why do we use bond ETFs instead of actively managed bond mutual funds? Bond ETFs have substantially lower costs, more liquidity, increased transparency, and over the last 10 years had a better return than 90% of actively managed mutual funds.

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Car Prices Are Falling

Today’s Chart of the Day is from S&P Dow Jones Indices.

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The Fence Paradox

Today’s Chart of the Day is an infographic from Pasquale Cirillo, @DrCirillo on Twitter. We see this often when investors say, “They wouldn’t be allowed to sell this, if it wasn’t safe.” Yes, there needs to be fences, but don’t let their security lull you into forgetting the risks on the other side.

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That's a lot of Down Time

Today’s chart comes from Wealthmanagement.com. It shows the drawdowns, which is the percent the market is down from the previous record high, going back to 1970. As you would expect, the chart shows most the time the market is “down” and investors spend a lot of time having “lost” money.

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Longer Equals Higher Probability

Today’s chart from JP Morgan Asset Management’s Guide to the Markets quarterly presentation shows the cumulative returns based on 1, 5, 10, and 20 years for all stocks (in green), all bonds (in blue), and a 50/50 mix (in grey) since 1950.

Essentially, the longer you hold your investments, the higher probability you have of positive returns. In fact, there was never a period over 20 years that any of the options lost money.

The chart also shows the average annual total return for stocks was an impressive 11.5% during last 20 years. It will be interesting to see how the next 20 years look.

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Worst Since 1788

Today's chart comes from Bank of America’s Global Investment Strategy team. We have all heard that this was a bad year for longer term bonds, but how bad? Well, for the 10-year treasury this is the worst year since 1788, so basically the worst year ever.

The reason is, since the beginning of this year, the yield went from 1.50% to the current 4.00%, which equates to a 166% increase, causing the price to fall an incredible 20%.

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China's Lost 30 Years

Today's chart from Refinitive shows that over the last 30 years, China has delivered a cumulative return of zero dollars, meaning $100 invested 30 years ago is still worth only $100 today.

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