Municipal Bonds

 

Because there are so many stocks that are NOT paying dividends and also going down people are looking for a safe investment that will pay a decent return and also won't lose money. Slowly folks are beginning to think about bonds of which there are all kinds.

Cities and counties have been issuing bonds. There are the school bonds for building new school buildings and the local district issues these. How about building a new sewage plant? Yes, a special bond could be used. If you live in a big city there could be bonds for that new stadium or maybe an aquarium or a huge theme park. Toll roads are a big money maker, aren't they?

The businessmen who want to build these attractions get the permission of the local government to issue them and they have the blessing of the city council or whoever and then go out and collect your money. These are not what are called investment grade bonds. They rank below the A classification and as a result you, the bond buyer, get a much higher rate of return. Remember this - the higher the rate of interest the riskier is the bond. Of course, if your municipality says this has their blessing than it should be O. K. Right?

The citizens of Denver popped for a new aquarium to the tune of 1.2 million. It was supposed to bring in more tourists and pay for itself with tickets. A fraction of those visitors showed up and now it looks like the project might default. They do not have enough money coming in to pay for the fish food and service the debt. And many toll roads are not getting enough traffic.

The spending spree of local governments has sponsored (not guaranteed) bonds equal to more than $320 billion this year. There are $1.6 trillion in municipal bonds. When the projects don't pay out the local governments can raise taxes to pay the shortfall, can't they? Sometimes they can, but many times they won't. The present default rate is running 10 times its historic norm.

One of the safest ways to buy bonds in a no-load bond mutual fund and there are hundreds of them. You can buy as little as $1,000 increments. Your broker will not tell you about them.

If you insist on buying individual bonds you want to know the true net yield, is it investment grade and is it insured. Bonds can be as dangerous as stocks. That is why a mutual fund manager is important, but you still must be in an investment grade fund.

(c) 2005

 



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