Though there is currently little offered in the bond market that is attractive enough to buy, that doesn’t mean I don’t shop less vigorously. And the reason is simple. Practice, practice, practice is what makes the bond game winnable. If you run a scan asking to see all bonds rated Baa1 to Baa3 and BBB+ to BBB- and offering at least 6%, a couple of issues will turn up, one of which is Lombardy Region’s 5.804’s of ’32. The Moody’s report on the bond is surprisingly favorable, citing economic strength of the region, low debt burden, etc. If singles were offered, I wouldn’t hesitate to take a position. But with a min-purchase of five, I’d prefer to put it on a watch-list instead and wait for a better opportunity, which raises this question. In the game of interest-rate chicken that the Fed has forced upon savers and fixed-income investors, how much risk are you willing to accept in order to obtain yield? That's not a theoretical question. All you have to do is run a bond scan or two, and you'll quickly see what your choices are. When you dump the output of that scan into Excel and then estimate the impact that taxes and inflation will have on yields, you come face-to-face with the harsh reality that yields are so low as to be mostly unacceptable. Even if the issuer doesn't default (which isn't a certainty), the net-gain after taxes and inflation is mere basis points. There is no margin of error for analytical judgments. That's not a fun game to play.
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