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 1-800-367-2663 or e-mail us.

President Trump and Puerto Rico’s debt

What’s the upshot of President Trump’s “pledge” to wipe out Puerto Rico’s debt and how will this affect my Puerto Rico bonds? How far will the insurance on my Puerto Rico bonds carry me?

R.V., Massachusetts

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An opportunity during muni redemptions

I have a laddered portfolio of California municipal bonds, many of which were purchased in 2007 at or around par. Most have coupon rates of 5.00% and are being redeemed this month. In order to reinvest in similar munis, I had to pay a 16% to 20% premium. In your article, “Summer Forecast: A Muni Redemption Flood, Supply Drought,” you said investors can often enhance their tax-free income when bonds are redeemed. With regard to these 2007 bonds, I don’t see how redemptions aren’t an issue or how reinvesting in similar bonds can enhance my tax-free income. In the decreasing-rate environment that has been in place for around 30 years, shouldn’t investors hope that older bonds are not redeemed?

L.C., California

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What to look for – and avoid – in a muni bond broker

We have a “prudent-investor” broker with another firm who put over $1 million into Puerto Rico bonds. We almost “killed” him when we found out what he did. Now we have to watch him very carefully to make small investments and gain a decent return. Any advice? We have about $2 million still invested. We understand a lot depends on the actions of the current government in Puerto Rico, which is very slow to react.

M.G., New York

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Premium paid on muni bonds is a return on principal

I have a question about municipal bonds selling at a premium: If I buy, for example, a 10-year face-value muni bond with a 5% coupon for $1,000 par and pay a 10% premium over par, I pay $1,100 to buy the bond. When the bond matures, I get back $1,000 and earn the stated yield-to-maturity when I purchased the bond. Assume that I can roll over a maturing $1,000 bond and use the proceeds to obtain a new bond selling at $1,100. To obtain the $100 premium, assume I go into my checking account.

Isn’t the upfront $100 premium simply returned to me over the life of the bond in the form of a slice of each coupon interest payment? That is, isn’t repayment of the $100 premium simply a return of my investment ($100), not a return on my investment ($100)?


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