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In addition, bonds carry the risk of being downgraded by the rating agencies which could have implications on price. Since all bonds are evaluated relative to Treasury bonds, this can affect the credit quality of other generally highly rated bonds, such as agency bonds. Bonds are typically classified as investment grade quality from medium to the highest credit quality or non-investment grade commonly referred to as high-yield bonds.
Bond funds and bond ETFs are not themselves rated by the agencies, but the investments they hold may be. You can find out the quality of a fund's investments by reading the fund's prospectus. It's important to read a fund's prospectus before investing to make sure you understand the fund's credit quality guidelines. Since bond funds and bond ETFs are made up of many individual bonds, diversification can help mitigate the credit risk of an issuer defaulting or being downgraded, which would affect bond prices.
Inflation risk Inflation risk is a particular concern for investors who are planning to live off their bond income, though it's a factor everyone should consider. The risk is that inflation will rise, thereby lowering the purchasing power of your income. The TIPS principal is adjusted for any rise in the Consumer Price Index, so when the bond matures and the principal is returned, that amount will be higher to correspond with the amount of inflation.
TIPS do not adjust at all if inflation decreases over the life of the bond. Because this inflation factor is a component of the interest payment calculation, interest payments for TIPS are variable, even though the coupon is fixed. There are bond funds that invest exclusively in TIPS, as well as some that use TIPS to offset inflation risk that may affect other securities in the portfolio.
Call risk A callable bond has a provision that allows the issuer to call, or repay, the bond early. If interest rates drop low enough, the bond's issuer can save money by repaying its callable bonds and issuing new bonds at lower interest rates. If this happens, the bondholder's interest payments cease and they receive their principal early. If the bond holder then reinvests the principal in a bond of similar characteristics such as credit rating , they will likely have to accept a lower interest payment or coupon rate , one that is more consistent with prevailing interest rates.
Therefore, the investor's total return will be lower and the related interest payment stream will be lower—a more serious risk to investors dependent on that income. Before purchasing a callable bond investors should evaluate not only the bond's yield to maturity YTM but also take account of the yield to call or the yield to worst YTW. Yield to worst calculates the worst yield from the 2 potential outcomes—either that the bond runs through its stated maturity date, or is redeemed earlier.
Prepayment risk Some classes of individual bonds, including mortgage-backed bonds, are subject to prepayment risk. This is especially prevalent in the mortgage-backed bond market, where a drop in mortgage rates can initiate a refinancing wave. When homeowners refinance their mortgages, the investor in the underlying pool of mortgage-backed bonds receives his or her principal back sooner than expected, and must reinvest at lower, prevailing rates.
Liquidity risk Liquidity risk is the risk that you might not be able to buy or sell investments quickly for a price that is close to the true underlying value of the asset. When a bond is said to be liquid, there's generally an active market of investors buying and selling that type of bond.
Treasury bonds and larger issues by well known corporations are generally very liquid. But not all bonds are liquid; some trade very infrequently e. You could choose to hold on to the bond and get your money back over time or sell it early to someone else. Stocks vs.
Bonds What are the pros and cons of stocks vs. But with the potential of more return comes more risk. Stocks fluctuate along with markets. The value of its stock increased times. Bonds Bonds issued by the U. They pay steady interest over time also called coupon payments , and the entities are unlikely to go away before the maturity date, or date when the debt plus interest must be paid. The company agrees to pay you 4 percent yearly interest over 10 years. Unlike stocks, bonds are a debt the company owes to you rather than an investment, so the interest and value of the bond is not tied to the stock market value of the company.
The price of bonds also goes in the opposite direction of interest rates. How is a bond different from a stock? Bonds are investments in debt while stocks are a way to purchase part of a company. Stocks and bonds also offer different risk levels and returns on investment. Let's look at the pros and cons of investing in each. Pros and cons of stocks Stocks can be high-reward investments given that they have the potential to result in large returns over a long period of time.
They tend to grow with the economy and can help stay ahead of inflation. Because stocks are higher risk, it's easier to lose money, especially if you're investing in individual stocks. Pros and cons of bonds Overall, bonds tend to be lower-risk investments than stocks and often they offer a higher interest rate than you could get by putting your money in the bank. The drawback is that they are low-reward, and interest payments may only keep up with inflation.
Lower-rated bonds, like junk bonds, run the risk of default. Investing in stocks and bonds Ultimately, the best investing strategies use a mix of stocks and bonds and sometimes alternatives like cash, commodities or real estate to balance risk and opportunity for reward.
The interest on municipal bonds is tax-free on the federal level as well, and if an investor owns a municipal bond issued in the state where the investor lives, the interest on this bond is not taxable by the state either. Fixed-rate bonds are subject to interest rate risk. When the market interest rate rises, the market price of bonds will fall since the investors will get higher interest rates by purchasing a newly issued bond that offers a higher interest rate.
Since bond interest payments are fixed, inflation can depreciate their value. While super-safe Treasuries can easily find a buyer on the market, other bond types, - especially junk bonds, can be extremely illiquid. Most of the disadvantages associated with these risks can be mitigated by diversifying investments within the investment portfolio.
It does mean you must have a longer time horizon, however. That way, you can buy and hold even if the value temporarily drops. Easy to buy: The stock market makes it easy to buy shares of companies. You can purchase them through a broker or a financial planner, or online. Once you've set up an account, you can buy stocks in minutes. If you're a small business owner, you may even be able to invest in stocks through your business.
Don't need a lot of money to start stock investing: Most retail brokers such as Charles Schwab, let you buy and sell stocks commission-free. Some brokers such as Fidelity also don't require account minimums. If the stock you want to buy is too expensive, you can also buy fractional shares if your broker allows for such investment.
Make money in two ways: Most investors intend to buy low then sell high. They invest in fast-growing companies that appreciate in value. That's attractive to both day traders and buy-and-hold investors. The first group hopes to take advantage of short-term trends, while the latter expect to see the company's earnings and stock price grow over time. They both believe their stock-picking skills allow them to outperform the market. Other investors prefer a regular stream of cash. They purchase stocks of companies that pay dividends.
Those companies grow at a moderate rate. Liquidity: The stock market allows you to sell your stock at any time. Economists use the term "liquid" to mean that you can turn your shares into cash quickly and with low transaction costs. That's important if you suddenly need your money. Since prices are volatile , you run the risk of being forced to take a loss. If a company does poorly, investors will sell, sending the stock price plummeting.
When you sell, you will lose your initial investment. If you can't afford to lose your initial investment, then you should buy bonds. Common stockholders paid last: Preferred stockholders and bondholders or creditors get paid first if a company goes broke. But that happens only if a company goes bankrupt. A well-diversified portfolio should keep you safe if any company goes under. Time: If you are buying stocks on your own, you must research each company to determine how profitable you think it will be before you buy its stock.
You must learn how to read financial statements and annual reports and follow your company's developments in the news. You also have to monitor the stock market itself, as even the best company's price will fall in a market correction , a market crash, or bear market. Taxes: If you sell your stock for a loss, you may be able to get a tax break.
However, if you sell your stock for a profit, you'd be liable to to pay capital gains taxes. Emotional roller coaster: Stock prices rise and fall second by second. Individuals tend to buy high out of greed, and sell low out of fear. The best thing to do is not constantly look at the price fluctuations of stocks, and just check in on a regular basis. Professional competition: Institutional investors and professional traders have more time and knowledge to invest.
They also have sophisticated trading tools, financial models, and computer systems at their disposal. Diversification means investing in different types of assets, across different sectors so that you spread out your risk. If one type of stock or asset goes down in value but other types of investments go up or stay the same, your entire portfolio is not impacted in a big way.
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