Another aspect of laddering that's getting over looked is the "All-in vs. dribble-in" question.Why would you consider a CD ladder as not being "all in"? Typically a CD ladder is set up (for this example, a 5 year ladder) by purchasing a 1 year, a 2 year, a 3 year, a 4 year, and a 5 year CD. Then, after 1 year elapses, when the 1 year expires, a new 5 year is purchased. After another year elapses, the 2 year expires, and a new 5 year is purchased. After 4 years have elapsed, you hold only 5 year CDs with one of them expiring every year.Seems to me that you are "all in" (albeit with different average duration during the first 4 years) at all times.
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