Cool gadgets, lots of action, improbable triumphs: Investing in stocks in the ‘90s could be as exciting as a 007 thriller. Two and a half years later, thinking about the stock market still scares the living daylights out of many investors. Many even are increasingly interested in that no-action hero, the bond market. If your clients are among the many investors taking a serious look at fixed income investing, herewith are a few sites that can introduce your clients to some bond basics, and a few other sites that may be useful to you. Give them a license to invest — in bond(s).
Investing in Bonds
The Bond Market Association's Investing in Bonds is a very clear and comprehensive guide to the major varieties of fixed-income investments. Targeting individual investors, the site features articles on a wide range of bond basics, from how to read bond listings in the newspaper, to how to compare the yield of tax-free and taxable bonds, to the personal characteristics of the major bond families. And if that's not enough, you'll find a comprehensive directory of bond-related sites here, too.
Comprehensive coverage of a $14 trillion market on one web site is a tough job, as this site makes clear. With its site, this Seattle startup seems to be trying to appeal to both the amateur and the professional by featuring highly technical and more pedestrian content — in the same space. The site boasts a very active community of users that share advice and strategies on the site's message boards. It's worth bookmarking because of its convenient pricing information on corporate, municipal and treasury issues.
A much simpler and more focused site from the BondsOnline Group than its eponymous site, PreferredsOnline focuses on the fixed-income equivalent of 007's tuxedo/wetsuit combination — preferred stock. In addition to quotes and information on currently traded preferred stock, convertible preferred stock and convertible bonds, the site features details on the day's top winning and losing preferred issues, volume leaders among preferred stocks and data on corporate credit rating changes for the previous 30 days. No free trials are offered, but you can try it for one day for $10.49 and see if a $30-a-month investment is worth it.
Bureau of the Public Debt Online
The Bureau of the Public Debt Online is an interesting site loaded with all kinds of facts about our public debt, from its current size (about $6.3 trillion) to detailed information about the various instruments you can use to help bankroll everyone's favorite spendthrift uncle.
Bond gurus aren't as easy to find as stock gurus, but, of course, there are a few around. Probably the best-known talking head of the bond world is Bill Gross, managing director of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) of Newport Beach, Calif. Gross's musings on the economy in general and the bond market in particular are conveniently located on the front page of the site, as is the work of some of PIMCO's somewhat lesser-known heads.
Of course, if your clients hunger for a real bond thriller, there is always the exciting world of emerging market bonds. BradyNet, from financial research shop IDEAGlobal, features quotes and analysis on a variety of the so-called “exotic,” or high-yield emerging market, securities, most particularly the emerging market debt issues named after former U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady. Country ratings and background information on a variety of emerging sovereign debt issues are available for free; a complimentary trial is available for more complete Brady pricing and analysis.