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Fund Spy

Bonds Versus Bond Funds: Minnows Versus Sharks

Which would you rather be?

Brokerage firms like to tell clients they should buy bonds instead of bond funds, but that is rarely a good idea. Investors almost always have an advantage buying a mutual fund's portfolio of bonds rather than buying bonds directly.

Treasury bonds are an important exception. The Treasury market is extremely large and liquid, its structures are as simple as they come, and most brokerages charge modest fees to buy and sell them at very fair prices. For pretty much everything else, the cards are stacked against you.