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Fixed Income

Fed Raises Rates, Signals Additional Hikes in 2017
by Collin Martin
March 15, 2017

The Federal Reserve just raised short term interest rates—again. Here’s what investors should know.

Is Your State Muni Bond Fund Investing Elsewhere? Why It Matters
by Cooper J Howard
March 13, 2017

While it’s common for fund managers to invest in out-of-state bonds, a large allocation to territories with declining credit conditions could be concerning. 

Why Market Returns May Be Lower in the Future
by Veerapan Perianan
March 13, 2017


What You Should Know About Convertible Bonds
by Collin Martin
March 08, 2017

Convertible bonds may generate attractive returns when stocks rise, but they differ greatly from traditional fixed income investments.

Closed-End Bond Funds: How They Work and What You Should Know As Rates Rise
by Kathy A Jones
March 02, 2017

Closed-end bond funds are a popular way for investors to garner extra yield when interest rates are low, but rising rates can negatively affect their performance. Here’s what you should know about these investments.

What would a shake-up at the Fed mean for bond investors?
by Kathy A Jones
February 28, 2017

Significant turnover will likely hit the Fed in the next few years. The changes may result in a shift in the way the Fed sets policy. 

Should Muni Investors Be Concerned About Pensions?
by Cooper J Howard
February 07, 2017

Dallas recently joined the list of major cities to see its credit ratings downgraded in the face of pension struggles. What does it mean for muni investors?  

Corporate Defaults: What Investors Should Know When A Bond Issuer Goes Bankrupt
by Collin Martin
February 02, 2017

With the corporate default rate rising, investors may be wondering what they should do if their corporate bond issuer goes bankrupt.

Short-Term Bonds: Why They Could Outperform As Interest Rates Rise
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
February 02, 2017

Bonds with shorter durations may outperform medium-term and long-term bonds if the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates.

Anatomy of a Bond Bear Market: What to Look For When Yields Rise
by Kathy A Jones
January 19, 2017

With yields surging from last summer’s record lows, are bonds at the start of a long-term bear market? To answer that question, you must first determine what constitutes a bear market in bonds.

Discount Munis: What You Need to Know About Taxes
by Cooper J Howard
January 13, 2017

Municipal bonds can offer tax-free income, but bonds purchased at discounted prices could be subject to variable tax rates.

Floaters vs. Bank Loans: What You Should Know as Rates Rise
by Collin Martin
January 10, 2017

Rising interest rates add to the appeal of floating-rate coupons, but not all investments in this category offer the same risks and rewards.

Will the U.S. Dollar Bull Market Continue in 2017?
by Kathy A Jones
January 05, 2017

The U.S. dollar looks set to continue rising this year, but the risks to the rally increase as the bull market ages.

Inflation Is Rising: Time to Consider Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities?
by Collin Martin
December 20, 2016

Inflation is trending higher and TIPS are still priced below their historical averages. Is now the time to consider some inflation protection? 

Changing Conditions: A Bond Market FAQ
by Kathy A Jones
December 13, 2016

Yields have surged and potential changes in taxes, government spending and interest rates could make the bond market more volatile. What does it mean to investors?

Corporate Bonds: Income May Drive Potential Returns in 2017
by Collin Martin
December 08, 2016

With yields poised to rise, income payments—rather than price gains—may drive potential total returns in the corporate bond market in 2017.

Bond Market Outlook: Higher Rates and Known Unknowns
by Kathy A Jones
December 01, 2016

The incoming administration’s proposals for taxes, spending and trade could create waves in the bond market. Caution may be in order.

Muni Bonds: Making Sense of the Post-Election Landscape
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
November 22, 2016

The potential for lower taxes and an increase in infrastructure spending could hurt muni prices in the short term, but we still feel they can make sense for high-income earners.

Can Bond Funds Make Sense When Interest Rates Rise?
by Rob Williams
November 17, 2016

Bond funds can experience price swings when interest rates rise, but potentially higher total returns over time can help you recover.

Premium Bonds: What’s the Attraction?
by Collin Martin
November 15, 2016

Paying more for a bond than you stand to get back at maturity may seem like a losing proposition, but premium bonds can offer attractive returns and price stability.

Change Is in the Air: A Post-Election Look at Bonds
by Kathy A Jones
November 09, 2016

The election results look set to continue the shift toward increased fiscal spending and higher inflation, but some caveats are in order.

Opposing Views: How the Candidates’ Tax Plans Could Affect Muni Bonds
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
October 20, 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have put forward very different tax plans. What do those plans mean for municipal bond investors?

European Bank Stress: What Does It Mean for the Preferred Securities Market?
by Collin Martin
October 18, 2016

Deutsche Bank's woes have rattled the preferred securities market, which is dominated by financial company issuers. Should investors be concerned?

Are Bond Yields About to Rise?
by Kathy A Jones
October 06, 2016

Back to School with Municipal Bonds
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
September 27, 2016

School district bonds can bring high credit quality and diversity to a portfolio of municipal bonds.

Quality Check: High-Yield vs. Investment-Grade Bonds
by Collin Martin
September 20, 2016

High valuations and weakening fundamentals suggest the case for high-yield bonds isn’t as compelling as that for investment-grade bonds. Yield seekers rethinking their risk tolerance should take note.  

Negative Interest Rate Policy: What Is It and Could It Happen Here?
by Kathy A Jones
September 08, 2016

Five major central banks have lowered their countries' interest rates into negative territory. Why are they doing it, and could the U.S. Federal Reserve follow suit?

Emerging Market Bonds: Curb Your Enthusiasm
by Kathy A Jones
August 30, 2016

Emerging market debt has delivered solid returns this year, but currency and default risks loom thanks to slow global growth and a potential rise in U.S. interest rates.

Is it Time to Consider Bank Loan Funds?
by Collin Martin
August 25, 2016

Bank loans offer relatively high income potential and may actually benefit from a Fed rate hike. But investors should also consider their risks. 

Extra Credit: The Lowdown on Enhancement Programs for School District Bonds
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
August 23, 2016

Looking for extra protection for your school district bonds? Consider munis backed by state credit-enhancement programs.

What Does Strong Job Growth Mean for Bond Investors?
by Kathy A Jones
August 11, 2016

Healthy recent U.S. employment growth suggests the Fed could raise rates again this year. Here's what investors should consider doing now.  

Munis: How to Invest in Infrastructure-Backed Bonds
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
August 02, 2016

Politicians are talking more about the need to invest in America’s infrastructure. Here’s what you need to know about investing in revenue-backed municipal bonds.

Do TIPS Make Sense When Inflation Is Low?
by Collin Martin
July 26, 2016

Yields on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities may not fully reflect the potential for rising prices, which could make them attractive. 

Market Stress: How Emotions Can Hurt and Help Your Portfolio
by Rob Williams
July 06, 2016

Emotional reactions to market stress can knock a portfolio off course. Here’s how you can prepare.

Puerto Rico Looming Default and Restructuring Bill: What You Need to Know
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
June 30, 2016

Puerto Rico is on the brink of potentially the largest municipal default in U.S. history. What could that mean for your bond portfolio?

Brexit: What Does It Mean for U.S. Corporate Credit?
by Collin Martin
June 28, 2016

U.K. voters’ decision to leave the EU could mean increased volatility in U.S. credit markets. Here are some tips to help your portfolio weather the storm.

Brexit: What Does It Mean for the Bond Market?
by Kathy A Jones
June 24, 2016

Amid market turmoil, investors are flocking to U.S. Treasuries. What else can investors expect as a result of Brexit?

Global Bonds: A World Without Yield
by Kathy A Jones
June 16, 2016

Bond yields are so low that investors may find themselves paying to hold foreign bonds rather than being paid for it. Caution is advised.

Waiting for a Fed Rate Hike: Bond Investments That May Make Sense Now
by Collin Martin
June 09, 2016

The Federal Reserve is likely to raise rates again this year, but that doesn’t mean fixed-income investors need to wait on the sidelines for a better entry point.

State Municipal Bonds: Should Slowing Tax Revenue Growth Worry Investors?
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
June 02, 2016

State tax revenue growth has been slowing—should municipal bond investors be worried?

Bond Index Investing: Why You Should Track More Than One Benchmark
by Kathy A Jones
May 19, 2016

Bond market changes mean that even mutual funds and ETFs tracking a broad bond index could expose investors to more risk than they realize. 

5 Cases Where Out-of-State Munis Might Make Sense
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
May 10, 2016

Out-of-state municipal bonds may not offer in-state tax advantages, but they could still help diversify a muni portfolio.  

The ECB’s Latest Plan: What Does It Mean for U.S. Corporate Bonds?
by Collin Martin
May 05, 2016

The European Central Bank is poised to buy corporate bonds. Here’s how its plan may affect the U.S. investment-grade corporate bond market.

Retirement Spending: How Much Can You Afford?
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
May 03, 2016

What’s the right spending level in retirement? The 4% rule is a good starting point for planning, but individual considerations still apply.

Mixed Signals From the Bond Market: Something’s Got to Give
by Kathy A Jones
April 21, 2016

If you’ve done well recently by investing in high-yield and long-term bonds, take heed: It’s unusual for both to outperform at the same time.

Bond Ladders: A Useful Tool for Retirement Income
by Rob Williams
April 18, 2016

Bond ladders can help you manage cash needs in retirement, allowing you potentially to take more risk elsewhere in your portfolio.

Pension Woes: Why Chicago Doesn’t Represent the Entire Muni Market
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
April 11, 2016

Pensions represent a burden on the $3.7 trillion muni market but most municipalities are able to meet their regular pension expense.

Looking for Extra Yield? The Case for Preferreds
by Collin Martin
April 11, 2016

Preferreds share characteristics with both stocks and bonds, and offer higher yields than most traditional fixed income investments.

Will Rising U.S. Debt Levels Keep the Fed On Hold?
by Kathy A Jones
April 04, 2016

Rising interest rates could add to the national debt burden, but that isn’t likely to deter further Fed hikes.

How to Build a Bond Portfolio
by Rob Williams
March 21, 2016

The bond market is large and complex, so it helps to focus on bonds that provide diversification, stability and income. 

Market Volatility: What If You Don’t Have Time to Recover?
by Rob Williams
March 09, 2016

When the market drops, it's generally a good idea to stick to your long-term investment plan. But what if you don’t have time to recover?

Is That High-Yield Bond Too Good to Be True?
by Collin Martin
February 25, 2016

High-yield bonds may look appealing, but they come with additional default and volatility risks.

Don’t Look Back: Surviving in a Low-Yield World
by Kathy A Jones
February 25, 2016

The Fed's rate increase hasn't offered bond investors the relief they were seeking, so caution remains the order of the day.

Corporate Bond Investors: Check Your Sectors
by Collin Martin
February 18, 2016

The recent drop in commodity prices is a reminder that sector risk can shake up the corporate bond market.

How Will Low Oil Prices Affect Municipal Bonds?
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
February 12, 2016

Will low oil prices hurt your municipal bonds? It depends on the types of issuers and where they’re located.

Low Rates, Volatile Markets: Income Investing Outlook 2016
by Rob Williams
February 10, 2016

Boosting your investment income is possible, but it will take patience and a carefully balanced portfolio.

Corporate Bonds: Tread Carefully in High-Yield Market in 2016
by Collin Martin
January 20, 2016

Despite temptingly high yields, we see risks in the high-yield bond market. Low commodity prices, low liquidity and deteriorating fundamentals could lead to further price declines in 2016.

Fixed Income Outlook 2016: New Year, Same Road Map
by Kathy A Jones
January 15, 2016

Bond markets could struggle with uncertainty this year, so investors may want to avoid risky bonds. 

Municipal Bonds: After Outperforming Stocks in 2015, What's Ahead in 2016?
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
January 13, 2016

Municipal bonds not only outperformed most other major bond categories in 2015, but the S&P 500 Index, as well.

Why the Chinese Currency Decline is Rattling Markets
by Kathy A Jones
January 07, 2016

The steady Chinese currency decline since last August has sent chills throughout the global markets. Here’s why, and what investors should know.

Proceed with Caution: High-Yield Bonds Face a Triple Threat
by Kathy A Jones and Collin Martin
December 14, 2015

The recent junk bond selloff highlights the challenges in high-yield bond investing. Here are some steps for investors to consider.

Investing in Bonds: Should You Choose Individual Bonds or Bond Funds?
by Rob Williams
December 09, 2015

When investing in bonds, should you choose individual bonds or bond funds? Here are a few guidelines.

Is the Federal Reserve Rate Hike Mystery About to Be Solved?
by Kathy A Jones
November 12, 2015

Changes to the Federal Reserve's economic model, coupled with a strong October jobs report, suggest the Fed may finally be on the verge of hiking interest rates.

Why the Illinois Downgrade Shouldn't Scare You Away From State Municipal Bonds
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
November 06, 2015

Although Illinois and a few other states are suffering financial troubles, most states' municipal bonds offer strong credit quality and relatively attractive yields.

Getting to Know Pre-Refunded Bonds
by Cooper J Howard
September 10, 2015

Looking for high-credit quality bonds? Consider "Pre-Re's."

Video | Bond Snapshot: Back to Bond Basics – Why Own Bonds?
by Kathy A Jones
August 10, 2015

Why own bonds if the Fed is raising interest rates? Join Kathy Jones for a discussion of the bond market and how the Fed rate hike might affect your investments.

How the Municipal Bond Insurance Market Has Changed Since the Great Recession
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
August 06, 2015

Bond insurance can add a layer of protection, but tends to come with a slightly higher cost and lower yield on the bonds it covers.

Corporate Bonds vs. Municipals: Which Make More Sense Now?
by Rob Williams and Collin Martin
April 29, 2015

With after-tax yields comparable to corporate bonds, are municipals now an opportunity for traditional corporate bond investors? 

FAQ: Tax Tips for Retirement Income
by Rob Williams
April 10, 2015

Our tax tips for cutting your bill to the IRS can help increase your retirement income and allow your portfolio to last longer.

How to Create a Sustainable Retirement Spending Plan
by Rob Williams
February 25, 2015

To set up a sustainable retirement spending plan, we recommend tapping multiple sources of cash flow.

Retirement Income Strategies: 3 Key Building Blocks
by Rob Williams
January 15, 2015

We outline three key building blocks to help develop your retirement income strategies.

Should You Worry About Bond Mutual Funds if Interest Rates Rise?
by Rob Williams
September 16, 2014

What impact might rising rates have on bond mutual funds? 

Do You Have Money Smarts?
by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz
August 28, 2014

Don’t let these common money myths derail your finances.

Bond Investing: How to Handle Information Overload
by Kathy A Jones
July 25, 2014

How can you filter out the noise in the bond market? Read about four key indicators and three investment trends to watch. 

Preferred Securities: Are They a Smart Investment Now?
by Collin Martin
May 21, 2014

Preferred securities have delivered double-digit returns this year, but we think the bull run may not last.

Finding Income With ETFs
by Michael Iachini
May 06, 2014

We explore bond ETFs, REIT ETFs and dividend stock ETFs as income investments.

When Is the Best Time to File for Social Security Benefits?
by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz
April 28, 2014

Don't lose out on valuable benefits by collecting Social Security too early. Carefully weigh your options to get the best return on your money.

How Do Annuities Work? Find Out Before Taking the Plunge
by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz
April 28, 2014

Some annuities are better than others: Find out how annuities work, what to consider, and whether purchasing one can be a smart move for you.

Newly Retired? Fresh Ideas for Managing Your Retirement Income
by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz
March 19, 2014

When tapping into your retirement accounts, learn which accounts and investments to draw from first.

9 Tips to Help Maximize Your Retirement Nest Egg
by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz
March 18, 2014

Now that you've built your retirement nest egg, learn the best ways to help maximize it.

Video | Bond Snapshot: The Year of the Taper
by Kathy A Jones
February 25, 2014

Kathy Jones shares her 2014 outlook for the fixed income market and considers impact of Fed’s tapering, heightened volatility, and road to higher interest rates.

Building Bond Ladders for Income
by Kathy A Jones
February 04, 2014

Building a bond ladder can help you earn income now. Plus, bond ladders give you the flexibility to reinvest in higher-yielding bonds if interest rates rise.

Video | Bond Snapshot: Bracing for the Bumpy Ride to Higher Rates
by Kathy A Jones
November 05, 2013

Kathy Jones discusses the rocky road to higher interest rates and offers ideas for navigating your bond portfolio through this challenging interest rate cycle.

Investing in U.S. City Bonds
by Cooper J Howard and Rob Williams
October 15, 2013

Despite recent negative headlines, we think city general obligation (GO) bonds should remain a core part of a municipal bond portfolio. We explain why.

Preferred Securities: Higher Yields, Different Risks
by Collin Martin
October 01, 2013

If the higher yields of preferred securities have caught your eye, here's what you need to know before you invest.

Is the Interest Rate Outlook Closer to 1994 or the Post-World War II Era?
by Kathy A Jones
August 21, 2013

Looking for insight into the current interest rate outlook? We suggest you consider the post-World War II period of the 1940s and 1950s.

Municipal Bonds: When 'Tax-Free' Isn't So Free
by Rande Spiegelman
August 07, 2013

Municipal bonds have long been an attractive investment option for tax-sensitive investors. But sometimes, munis may not be so tax free after all.

Two Types of Annuities for Retirement Income
by Rob Williams
March 27, 2013

After working hard to save for retirement, you'll need to manage market risk and generate income that lasts—annuities are one tool that can help.

Shopping for a Fixed Annuity
by Rande Spiegelman
October 18, 2012

Here's how to evaluate whether an immediate fixed annuity makes sense for you—and how to get the best deal. 

Lump Sum Vs. Annuity
by Rande Spiegelman
June 29, 2012

Should you take a lump sum or a monthly paycheck for life? How to decide.

Investors should consider carefully information contained in the prospectus, including investing objectives, risks, charges and expenses. You can request a prospectus by calling 800-435-4000. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Performance may be affected by risks associated with non-diversification, including investments in specific countries or sectors. Additional risks may also include, but are not limited to, investments in foreign securities, especially emerging markets, real estate investment trusts (REITs), fixed income and small capitalization securities. Each individual investor should consider these risks carefully before investing in a particular security or strategy.