Investors Searching for Yield May Instead Find Pain

Friday, 04 Jan 2013 08:38 AM

By Dan Weil

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With the Federal Reserve having pushed interest rates to record lows with its massive easing of the past five years, income-starved investors are seeking decent yield anywhere they can find it.

And some of their asset purchases might come back to bite them, experts tell The Wall Street Journal.

Investors are loading up on junk bonds, emerging market bonds, real estate investment trusts and master limited partnerships. Some securities in these categories are quite sound, but others aren’t, especially ones issued recently.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: ‘Money From Heaven a Path to Hell.’ See Evidence.

"The search for yield is going to be even more challenging," Rebecca Patterson, chief investment officer at Bessemer Trust, tells The Journal.

She’s worried about developments such as junk bonds being issued with weaker safeguards for investors. "Risk is building behind the scenes."

But the Fed’s plan to keep interest rates near record lows until unemployment shrinks to 6.5 percent just emboldens investors to buy risky assets.

Those opting for junk bonds could be singing the blues this year, says Martin Fridson, a veteran junk bond analyst who is now CEO of financial research firm FridsonVision.

“The high-yield market is extremely overvalued, by our analysis,” he wrote in a recent commentary obtained by Barron’s. “Based on the consensus forecast of a rise in Treasury yields, the expected 2013 total return on high-yield bonds is below zero.”

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: ‘Money From Heaven a Path to Hell.’ See Evidence.

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