Don’t Shun Global Bonds

Interest rates have reached extreme lows around the world, and they’ll likely stay low for some time. Does this mean global bond investing is no longer worthwhile? Should US-based investors revert to a US-only bond strategy in their hunt for yield and safety? We don’t think so.

Yields tumbled worldwide this year, thanks to the massive global policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect today’s low—and in some cases, negative—yields to persist for the foreseeable future, as central banks put a pin in key rates and continue to deploy quantitative easing programs and other measures intended to shore up financial markets and support fiscal rescue packages. (Only China has bucked the global yield trend; its yields are now higher than before the pandemic.)

Even in the face of low government bond yields, however, investors should take care not to reduce duration, a measure of interest-rate sensitivity, too drastically. While the coronavirus has turned our world upside down in ways we never imagined, duration continues to play its traditional role as an offset to risk assets.

Similarly, no evidence points to a fundamental shift giving a long-term advantage to a single bond market such as the US. In fact, in volatile environments, global bonds have historically had an advantage over US bonds.

Below are three key reasons why we think US investors should embrace the global bond market today.