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投資理財

債市震蕩的后果很嚴重,投資者該如何應對?

Kevin Kelleher 2019年10月11日

鑒于債券價格處于高位,現在或許是賣掉高收益債券等風險較高證券的恰當時機。

對緊張不安的投資者來說,幾十年來債券一直是不明朗局勢中的“輻射避難所”。但在2019年,債券市場看起來卻更像是瞄準投資者投資倉位的導彈。

大衰退至今的10年中,世界各國利率在大多數時間里已經處于低點,如今則再次下降,這讓養老基金和小規模投資者更難獲得緩慢但穩定的利率收益,而正是這種收益讓債券成為許多退休基金的源泉。造成這種局面的因素有幾個,包括持續了10年的經濟擴張開始放緩、中美貿易爭端可能給全球貿易帶來壓力以及多數經濟學家都認為2021年以前將出現衰退。

所有這些因素都很重要,原因是它們壓低了利率,而投資者也變得更愿意接受較低的“收益率”,或者說利率,以換取債券在他們眼中的安全性。在這些因素的共同影響下,作為基準的美國10年期國債收益率已經從2018年11月的3.24%降至今年9月1.45%的低點。

收益率下降會形成上升空間,至少理論上是這樣。收益率降的越低,現有債券的價格就漲的越高,從而使它們較高的利率顯得更有吸引力。從今年年初到9月中旬,彭博巴克萊美國綜合債券指數上升了8%,一只美國公司債券指數也上揚了12.3%。不過,幾乎沒有債券投資者希望利率重新回到零,原因是微薄收益率的影響將超過任何債券價格的上漲。

債券投資巨頭太平洋投資管理公司掌握著1.8萬億美元資產。該公司的董事總經理斯科特·馬瑟說:“今后,回報率將低于此前10年的水平,而這會給投資者帶來挑戰。”

For decades, bonds have offered a kind of fallout shelter for jittery investors in uncertain times. But in 2019, the bond market has looked more like the tip of a warhead aimed at their portfolios.

Global interest rates, already low for most of the decade since the Great Recession, are falling again, making it harder for pension funds and small investors to harvest the slow-and-steady interest income that makes bonds the foundation of many retirement funds. There are a number of factors at play: A decade-long economic expansion is starting to lose its momentum. The U.S.-China trade war threatens to weigh down global commerce. And a majority of economists expect a recession by 2021.

Here’s why that all matters: These factors drive down rates, as investors become more willing to accept less “yield,” or interest, in return for bonds’ perceived safety. Taken together, these forces have dragged the rate on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury from 3.24% in November 2018 to as low as 1.45% this September.

Falling rates have an upside, at least on paper: The further they fall, the higher prices rise on existing bonds, whose higher rates look more attractive. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is up 8% this year through mid-September, while an index of U.S. corporate bonds is up 12.3%. Still, few bond investors relish going back to near-zero interest rates because meager yields will outweigh any price gains.

“Going forward, the returns are going to be lower than they have been in the last decade,” says Scott Mather, a managing director at bond-investing giant Pimco, which has $1.8 trillion in assets under management. “And that makes it challenging for investors.”

這種環境下債券投資者能做些什么呢?低收益率和經濟趨弱讓可接受的方案變得很少。鑒于債券價格處于高位,現在或許是賣掉高收益債券等風險較高證券的恰當時機,這些證券在熊市中的震蕩往往較為劇烈,和成長型科技股并無不同。

對就要或者已經退休的投資者來說,最安全的做法也許是緊握美國國債、質量較高的抵押貸款支持債券以及金融等基本面強勁的行業中的投資級公司債券。當然,這些債券的收益率或許很低,但其他資產的最終表現可能遠不如它們。馬瑟指出,美聯儲可能會把利率降到接近零的水平,甚至像諸多歐洲國家和日本那樣進入更危險的負利率區間,盡管這“非常不可能”。這種情況有可能在一段時間內讓現金成為吸引力較低的投資,就像上次衰退時那樣。

退休前還有幾十年時間存錢的投資者可以多冒些險,通過波動較大的投資對熊市加以利用。換句話說就是,如果屬于這個群體,那么現在也許并不是把大量資金從股市轉移到債市的時候。畢竟時間會證明,過于努力地去捕捉市場高點和低點還不如較穩定的買入并持有。但現在同樣不宜通過囤積高風險、高收益的垃圾級債券來追逐較高的回報率。

馬瑟說:“看到自己的投資收益率較低時,人們就會自然而然地想到‘也許我應該配置更多的高收益資產’。這是一個錯誤的決定,因為這樣做可能比較危險。”(財富中文網)

本文另一版本登載于《財富》雜志2019年10月刊,標題為《債券買家陷入困境》。

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譯者:Charlie

審校:夏林

What can bond investors do in such an environment? The confluence of low yields and a weakening economy leaves few palatable options. With bond prices high, now could be an opportune time to sell off riskier securities, such as higher-yield bonds, which?—not unlike growth-oriented tech stocks—tend to be more volatile in bear markets.

For investors near or in retirement, the safest approach may be to hunker down in U.S. Treasuries, higher-quality mortgage-backed bonds, and investment-grade corporate bonds in sectors with strong fundamentals, such as financials. Their yields may be low, sure, but other assets could end up performing far worse. Mather says the Fed could cut U.S. interest rates to near zero, even if it’s “highly unlikely” it would veer into the risky terrain of negative interest rates, which have become commonplace in Europe and Japan. That’s likely to leave cash a relatively unattractive investment for a while, just as it was during the last recession.

Investors who still have decades to save for retirement can stomach more risk and ride out bear markets in more volatile investments. Put another way: If you’re in this category, now’s probably not the time to move a lot of money from stocks into bonds. Trying too hard to time market highs and lows, after all, is a time-proven way to under?perform a steadier buy-and-hold approach. But now’s also no time to chase higher returns by loading up on higher-risk, higher-yield junk bonds.

“The natural inclination people have when they see lower yields in their portfolio is to think, ‘Maybe I should allocate more to high yield,’?” Mather says. “That’s the wrong decision because it can be more dangerous.”

A version of this article appears in the October 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “Bonds Put Buyers in a Bind.”

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