markr33,Sometimes common understandings are helpful. Lots of times they're not. I, for one, am always willing to question conventional assumptions and practices, especially if they offer inferior results and are enforced by arbitrary "authority".What might be a minimalist ladder? 2 rungs, right? which could be created instantanteously or sequentially, as Loki reminds us. Consider a ladder of three rungs. Conventional practice would weight each rung equally and space then equally. But why? Can anyone defend the practice other than by making the weak appeal to custom? If the spacing of the rungs is equal, that that mean arithemtically so? Why are geometrically spaced rungs overlooked? Etc. etc. It is always possible to question every aspect of conventionially accepted ideas and to find better ways of doing things. Always. No of this stuff is written in stone and a lot of it isn't very good. I have ladders, some of which look like conventional ladders and some are of my own shaping. Some are even a bit broken for some of their rungs having been called. But they are ladders, everyone of them. Together, they are parts of my portfolio which also has other sub-parts, which are also portfolios in themselves. What are the two frequently mentioned purposes of constructing fixed-income ladders: (1) management of risk (2) management of cash flows. If a person constructs something that has what Wittenstein would call a "family resemblance" to thing other people also consider ladders, then it, too, is part of the set of ladders. There is no defensible reason why any investor's ladders have to look exactly like anyone else's. Each person's situation is unique, as are their needs, means, skills, understanding. There is nothing in investing that can be done only one way. The financial middlemen would like you to believe that, because they can then claim expertise and gouge fees. Therefore, challenging assumptions and definitions is a survival strategy for which The Motley Fool was supposedly created and which it supposedly supports. Or has it merely become yet another safe harbor for conventional wisdoms? Charlie
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