SDS (Seductive ...'s  Instablog

SDS (Seductive Dividend Stocks)
Send Message
Sorry I hide my true identity but I'm a physicist/engineer, native contrarian and idea generator. I am an eclectic dividend investor with motto "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" applied to companies I invest in. I like to read /and read a lot - did you look on my SA photo 8-)? / including... More
My blog:
SDS blog in Seeking Alpha
  • Bonds: Return-Free Risk (15 Feb 2012) 5 comments
    Feb 19, 2012 1:16 PM

    There are so many comments to intriguing SA article "Asset Allocation For A Dividend Growth Investor" by David Van Knapp see that I cannot afford to read because have not enough time.
    I also commented to the article and because I used figures my comment is in blogpost - see

    I'd like to add one more comment and again I need figures to illustrate my point, so it is here

    Basically David Van Knapp said in the article that his pension + social security payment is a substitute for bonds. The author claimed that he can avoid bonds with dividend growth stocks and deal quite well with inflation. This is quite unusual statement. If we look just on US dividend stocks and US government long-term bonds in last 30 years we find that bonds are better shield from inflation than stocks for income investor (fig.1)

    FIG. 1: data from American Association of Individual Investors - Download Library, Historical Market Data.

    So assuming /of course wrongly/ that i) all interest can be reinvested tax-free without any fees, ii) the bond is hold ONLY till inflation smaller than yield, iii) the bond is sold without loss of principal, we can congratulate such bondholder with win against inflation and perfect timing.

    But between 1946 and 1981 sometimes inflation in USA was stronger than long-term bonds' yield but such periods were quite short.
    On another hand correlation between stocks and bond prices is weak.
    Therefore many market pundits propose a mix of bonds and stocks for investors with age-dependend receipy for the mix. Usually the pundits recommend increase bonds part with age claiming that they are less risky than stocks. Moreover, "risk-free return" is the standard description of government's bonds. Indeed it was no single default of US government's bonds, but even long-term (10 years) US bonds do not protect income investor from inflation in case of not-so-frequent (once in 5 years) tactical rebalance of this asset class as I conclude from fig. 2 below.

    FIG. 2: data from Brandes Institute/Ibbotson Associates for 10 years US government's bonds

    I think more often e.g. quarterly rebalance leads to worse result for investors (but better fees for investor advisers) but as James Montier said "rather than simply asserting that something is true, I would like people to show me the evidence that this really is the case".

    I think that US economy and geopolitical situation were unique in last 100+ years. If we look in old well developed economies in Europe we find quite different picture. For example, German government bonds became worthless two times in XX century; UK had periods of inflation and deflation (fig.3)

    FIG. 3. UK data

    As James Grant said (see government bonds might be "return-free risk" (!)

    Fortunately US did not face hyperinflation during quite short country history but IMO post-2008 monetary policy in US and Europe plus islamic terrorism plus strange US/China relations might lead to economic collapse and default of US goverment bonds.

    And the last but not the least today's comment to the "Asset Allocation For A Dividend Growth Investor" article:

    David Van Knapp said in the article that HIS pension + social security payment is a substitute for bonds. I'll probably have no pension and default of social security and goverment bonds might be strongly correlated in time. I hope we will NOT see such defaults in USA as UK had during their longer history.

    Added 2 Jan 2014:

    Well there is no sense to invest in bonds now as graph below shows:

    (click to enlarge)

    But, should I invest in bonds in the future? Probably not. Ronald H. Muhlenkamp was politically correct and didn't mentioned government bonds when he wrote the following:

    "In the bond market the borrower issues the bonds and therefore writes the rules. Consequently, bonds are designed to make money for the borrower, not for the lender."

    Although I doubt that government creates the rules to panish holder of Threasures, I keep in mind that government can print money and therefore create inflation higher than any interest rate on their bonds. So only MUNI might be worth to consider for hight tax bracket investors. But often municipals loan money for period they choose, which might be not perfect for a lender. BTW government can make the same with loan period via ratio between bonds issues with different maturities.

    Again Mr. Muhlenkamp citation "Corporate stocks provide higher returns than corporate bonds because management works for the stockholder and against the bondholder" confirms my preference for equity, and esp. for dividend growth (NYSE:DG) and high yield (NYSE:HY) stocks.

Back To SDS (Seductive Dividend Stocks)'s Instablog HomePage »

Instablogs are blogs which are instantly set up and networked within the Seeking Alpha community. Instablog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors, in contrast to contributors' articles.

Comments (5)
Track new comments
  • David Van Knapp
    , contributor
    Comments (13522) | Send Message
    You've made the same mistake made by so many others: You're equating amount (yield) with change in amount (inflation). They are not the same thing. I wrote a detailed comment on my article when Weinman made the same mistake. I won't repeat that all here.


    The first graph is useless. It combines amounts with growth rates on one chart without distinguishing them, which is misleading in the extreme. It also uses S&P 500 yield to represent stock yield, which is misleading in that no dividend growth investor uses the S&P 500 to execute the strategy.


    SDS, I am not going to follow up any more on these "contrarian" posts. I worked with many "Yeah, but..." type of "idea generators" in my working life, and they generally require too much time to deal in comparison with the occasionally useful insight they provide. If you want to make an actual well-developed point, write an article. I generally don't look at Instablogs, there are only so many minutes in a day.
    15 Feb 2012, 11:33 AM Reply Like
  • SDS (Seductive Dividend Sto...
    , contributor
    Comments (4481) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Dear David,
    I'm not aware about Weinman discussion.
    Re-investing bonds (or dividends) anybody can achieve the same cumulative effect, so IMO graphs shows reality in the past. I cannot claim that reality in the future will be the same.
    I'm not aware about public data for DG stocks similar to S&P500 data Somebody needs to create such database. Nevertheless I believe that if S&P500 wins from ABCD index in something related to dividends, a wide representative dividend index should also wins from ABCD in the same time period.


    "SDS, I am not going to follow up any more on these "contrarian" posts." - It is up to you. " If you want to make an actual well-developed point, write an article." It seems that my non-perfect English makes difficult for you to get the message of my blogposts - sorry. I also pretty busy and don't have time /resources for SA articles.


    For all others - I just tried to show that bonds are not bullet-proof safe investment.


    15 Feb 2012, 11:07 PM Reply Like
  • SDS (Seductive Dividend Sto...
    , contributor
    Comments (4481) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Just FYI:
    Negative Yield on German 2-Year Note:
    "Germany sold €4.173 billion ($5.13 billion) of a two-year note, or Schatz, at an average yield of minus 0.06%, meaning it will pay back less money in two years than it received .... from investors. The two-year bonds won't have any scheduled interest payments to investors."
    16 Jan 2013, 12:53 AM Reply Like
  • SDS (Seductive Dividend Sto...
    , contributor
    Comments (4481) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » DVK,
    Let's assume investor wants to have income during retirement from bond interest only and pass principal to her kids. She needs to estimate her life expectancy and average inflation during retirement period. Then she can estimate cash Cx she needs during her last year of life (assuming that medical expenses are the same as during whole retirement - I read that we spend 50% of money on doctors during our last 9 months of life). Knowing Cx she can calculate C1 - cash needed in 1st year of retirements and this C1 is directly yield she need from bond because principal is known. So yield and inflation are linked in bond investment. Unfortunately most of us do not have principal to afford pure bond retirement. Would you do it with Treasures if you have big enough principal?
    17 Feb 2014, 08:20 AM Reply Like
  • SDS (Seductive Dividend Sto...
    , contributor
    Comments (4481) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » US debt defaults:
    14 Mar 2014, 03:16 PM Reply Like
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers


More »

Latest Comments

Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.