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Investing Specialists

The Error-Proof Portfolio: Keep Bond Worries in Perspective

Switching out of bonds isn't the answer

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Whether your guru is Jack Bogle, Bill Gross, or Roger Ibbotson, the smart money is on bonds posting disappointing returns during the next decade.

The logic is certainly sound. Bond returns are composed of two elements: whatever income they pay out and any price changes in the bonds themselves. And on both counts, the situation for bonds looks bleak. Current yields, historically a good proxy for bond returns in the future, remain ultra-low--about 1%-2% for shorter-term bonds and 3%-4% for intermediate-term bonds. And should interest rates head higher--and they really have only one way to go, following generally declining rates for more than two decades--prospects for declining bond prices are very real.

Given that dour outlook, it's tempting to downplay bonds as a portion of your portfolio. Some investors have suggested that you might as well hunker down in cash until worries about rates blow over. You'll have to settle for lower yields, but at least you won't face the principal losses you might confront in bonds.

Christine Benz does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.