No. of Recommendations: 4
Everyone is saying that now is a lousy time to be buying bonds, because interest rates are so low. The talking heads have said it. I've said it. We've all said it. But, is it true? I haven't the slightest, and I don't really care. I do know as a certainty that I'm getting rusty, stale, and sloppy from sitting around and holding back in hopes that things will get better. Investing is an art, and like any art it has to be practiced. As Leonard Bernstein said:

“If I don't practice one day, I notice the degradation of my concert performance. If I don't practice for two days, the critics notice it. If I don't practice for three days, the audience notices it. So, I practice every day.”

In the past couple of weeks I've decided to hold my nose and go shopping, not with the open checkbook and casual vetting that the easy market of two years ago allowed, but shopping, nonetheless, with the intention to buy anything that's “good enough”, because I don't know whether markets are going to get better, or get worse, but I do know that my skills are going to get worse if I don't practice them.

With that in mind, I'd like to initiate a participatory thread in which everyone comments how they vet their buying decisions. Not a detailed explanation of their whole research process, but something along the lines of the following:

Before I buy a bond, I always…

And to get things started,

- Before I buy a bond, I always grind through the SEC filings.

-Before I buy a bond, I always pull listings for every bond the bond the company has issued and look for patterns. (Note: “Listings” are the total record of all issues of the company, including those already matured. “Offerings” is what is currently offered for sale.)

- Before I do anything fundamental work at all, I always pull a stock chart. If it's a crap stock, I assume it's a crap bond and look for another opportunity.

- Before I buy a bond…. [ your tip here ].

“He that cannot abide a bad market deserves not a good one.” (English proverb, unattributed.)
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