If you feel like things are more expensive, you are right. Despite a slightly weaker than expected inflation report in April, this year, prices have accelerated faster than Fed officials anticipated just a few months ago. Last week we learned that headline inflation increased to a 14-month high of 2.5 percent from a year ago in April, due in large part to rising gas prices. Excluding food and energy the core rate increased by 2.1 percent.
Worries about rising inflation have spooked stock and bond investors. As a reminder, inflation occurs when the prices of goods and services rise and as a result, every dollar you spend in the economy purchases less. The annual rate of inflation over from 1917 until 2017 has averaged just over 3 percent annually. That might not sound like much, but consider this: today you need $7,272.09 in cash to buy what $1,000 could buy in 50 years ago.
We're cramming in a summer class on bonds, led by Bond Yoda, Marilyn Cohen. Marilyn founded Envision Capital Management 20 years ago after stints at William O’Neil & Company and Cantor Fitzgerald. Besides her impressive credentials, our favorite fact on her bio is: "In her spare time Marilyn raises service dogs for the disabled and regularly conducts pet therapy sessions at the VA Hospital."
Marilyn covers the differences between bond funds and individual bonds; the costs involved in buying bonds directly and how you can learn more about the mark up and recent trading of bonds at http://www.investinginbonds.com/.
How should you invest your bond portfolio? Marilyn advises that investors keep it US-centric (though not treasuries) and make sure to focus on 3 to 10 year maturities. She also weighs in on whether or not you should consider so-called "bond alternatives", like REITs, dividend stocks, preferred stock.
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