Those investors who believed they had constructed a “conservative” portfolio by being heavily invested in bonds could be reclassified as “aggressive.” Some also believe the move may be an attempt by the firm to lessen its liability in the event clients who are holding large positions in bonds decide to take legal action against UBS.
Mike Ryan, the chief investment strategist for UBS, said so-called “non consent” letters will be sent out to investors in the coming weeks alerting them of their changed classification – but he says it has little to do with a firm-wide bias against bonds. Rather, UBS is changing “its long-term view” reflecting what it views as a “volatile market…not just in fixed income.”
The Federal Reserve at some point will have to raise short-term interest rates (currently close to 0%), and end its quantitative easing program, which involves the Fed’s purchase of government bonds, which helps depress long-term interest rates and prop up bond prices (yields move in the opposite direction from price). Once this process starts, “conservative” investors with long bond positions will suffer devastating losses or be forced to hold to maturities of which can be decades down the road.
Bonds also carry credit risk and can default if the underlying company can no longer satisfy its obligations. Bonds are not without risk, however in many instances Bonds are presented as the safe alternative.
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