Legacy Credit Ratings Don’t Jive With Market Reality
In mid August, the bond section of the Charles Schwab brokerage Web site said a representative ten-year, single-A muni yielded 5.9%, and a ten-year, triple-A yielded 4.1%. But when you look at the actual listings, you’ll often find anomalies: Some ten-year single-A bonds yielded as little as 3.7%, while a few uninsured triple-A bonds (those supported by tax revenues or utility bills) paid up to 4.5%. Clearly, legacy credit ratings don’t jive with market price realities but market price based credit ratings do. For example, look at the bonds of then highly rated Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns months before they imploded and the market had it right. Bond-fund managers say they rely more on their own research to evaluate a bond’s price and yield, you should too and you can trade smarter by taking advantage of pricing inconsistencies.