Municipal Bond Forum

FMSbonds, Inc.’s Municipal Bond Forum™ is an exclusive opportunity for investors to submit questions and comments on the bond market or to respond to one of our articles.

To participate, just send us an e-mail. Be sure to include your name or initials and your state of residence. Posted e-mails may be edited for length and clarity. If you prefer a private response, please note that in your e-mail. Responses are provided by James A. Klotz, president and co-founder of FMSbonds, Inc., a municipal bond specialist for more than 35 years, and other members of the firm as noted.

Postings are listed by date. If you have any questions, please call us at 1-800-FMS-BOND (1-800-367-2663) or e-mail us.

Do longer-term muni bonds make sense?

I'm 71 years old and looking to invest in municipal bonds. Should I still look at long-term muni bonds?

Should Have Stuck To Experience And Avoided Bond Laddering

You are spot on with your article, “Today’s Market Especially Cruel to Bond Ladders.” Unfortunately, I did fall for the short-term trap in 2016 when I bought corporate bonds. I rolled over an IRA and felt yields were on the low end of my range so I committed 70% of my capital to bonds maturing in 12 to 20 years and deployed the other 30% in a three-year, short-term fixed annuity. I thought yields would be higher in 2019 than in 2016. Now I have those funds at my disposal but yields have fallen below the level I’m comfortable with. I should have stuck with my 30 years of experience with munis and just committed my funds as they were available. Trying to predict the future direction of rates often ends badly!

We Know Where Muni Rates Are Going, So Why Not Build A Bond Ladder?

I read with great interest your concerns about bond ladders, “Today’s Market Especially Cruel to Bond Ladders.” However, if long-term muni rates are about 3.00%, but today are only about 2.00%, then putting a portion into a ladder makes sense if you’re starting a long-term program today using a current lump sum. If, for example, one assumes that rates would start rising in five years then gradually plateau five years after that, wouldn’t it make sense to allocate some portion of the amount to a ladder between five and 10 years and the rest to an immediate commitment to a very long-term maturity, like 40 years? The main decision then would be the percentage allocated to the ladder portion.

Caution on Tobacco Bonds

You had an article awhile ago on tobacco bonds (“Better News Ahead for Tobacco Bonds?”) and I was wondering how they are doing. I am 76 years old and interested in income.

Limited supply of Build America Bonds

What are Build America Bonds? Are they still available to be purchased? If so, are they a good deal?

Will my municipal bonds be called?

In your commentary, “Interest Rate Reality,” you repeat the mantra, “look first for appropriate quality, then focus on yield.” You also advocate buying long-term individual muni bonds and holding them to maturity— great advice, if the bonds are not callable. The reality is that most, if not all, of the available bonds are callable, some within a year or two. Do you have any general guidelines on how to gauge whether a callable bond is or is not likely to be called?

Is there a correlation between stocks and bonds?

Why do high-yield, tax-exempt muni bond funds act more like stock (equity) funds than bond funds? I thought bonds were supposed to move in a somewhat opposite fashion relative to stocks over time. My correlations don't show this negative relationship.

Today’s muni yields

Your recent article (“Municipal Bonds as Trade War Safe Haven?”), left out one very important fact - the lack of supply of creditworthy munis, at par, that have a respectable yield. I’ve seen bonds that a year ago were selling at a deep discount that are now selling at premiums reducing the yields. You’re putting a positive spin on munis despite the lack of availability, low yields, premium pricing and chasing yields maturing when we welcome the new century.

Short-term munis sacrifice income

I'm currently with (a large stock brokerage firm) where I hold over $300,000 in California municipal bonds.Income comes to $12,000 - $13,000 a year.It is one of the better plays in my portfolio.I asked my advisor there if perhaps I should increase my munis, but he was adamant that rising rates will work against them.Looking at other fixed-income choices certainly has not excited me.If I invest another $250,000 in diversified munis with a duration of about seven years, what would be your choices through FMSbonds?
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