What a Bond Market Decline Could Mean For Retirement Investments

Published May 4th, 2022

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Michael Collins CFA | Bond Market Decline

Written by:

Michael Collins, CFA
Zoe 
Network Advisor

There are endless things that can happen in the stock market. But, one thing will always happen: the market will go up and down. This is called market volatility. So what does market volatility mean for bond investors? Well, when interest rates go up, bond prices go down.

I want to let you in on a secret: I’m a bit of a stock market addict. I genuinely love following the ups and downs, the ebb and flow of the markets. It’s fascinating to me to watch! However, the rules change when it comes to your life’s savings and big life purchases. Are you one of those people who can handle the emotional rollercoaster of seeing your retirement investment peak and drop every now and then? If so, then the stock market is for you! But, for the rest of us, I think it’s safe to assume most prefer a more stable retirement investment, like bonds in this case! 

Market Volatility = Bond Market Decline

There are endless things that can happen in the stock market. But, one thing will always happen: the market will go up and down. This is called market volatility. So what does market volatility mean for bond investors? Well, when interest rates go up, bond prices go down.

Volatility is to the stock market what hot fudge is to an ice cream sundae: an essential ingredient. Without it, the market would be a lot less exciting (and less profitable). 

But just because market volatility is an essential aspect of the market doesn’t mean you, as an investor, have to like it. On the contrary, most investors are downright terrified of market volatility. And more than terrifying, it’s also a bit confusing.

How Does a Decline in Bonds Happen?

Why do bond prices decline when interest rates rise? It’s simple: newly issued bonds pay higher rates than older bonds when rates go up. That makes the more senior bonds less valuable, so their prices decrease. 

Imagine you have a savings account that pays 2% interest. All of a sudden, a new bank opens up down the street and started offering 3% interest on new accounts. Would you keep your money in the old account? The same is true when interest rates go down. If you have a bond that pays 4% interest and interest rates fall to 3%, the value of your bond will go up.

The bottom line is that when the stock market is volatile, it can impact bond prices. If you’re thinking about investing in bonds, be prepared for some ups and downs. 

A Bond Market Decline Is Not All Bad News!

You might assume there’s nothing you can do with bonds if the bond market declines. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news! There’s a silver lining. If you hold on to your bonds until they mature, you will get your money back, plus interest. Even though bond prices may go down in the short term, they will eventually rebound. In the meantime, you can always take comfort in the fact that bonds are a lot less volatile than stocks. So, if you’re looking for a bit of stability in your portfolio, bonds are an excellent place to turn.

It can be scary. The stock market has ups and downs, and sometimes those downs are followed by panic in the news, in the street, and on social media. But don’t let it take an emotional toll on you. You will likely experience the same with investing for retirement, but if you hang on and try not to panic, you’ll eventually get to the end of the ride. 

Here are a couple of tips you can apply if you’re experiencing market volatility: 

  1. Avoid acting impulsively
  2. Don’t panic; volatility is normal; even the most successful investors experience it.
  3. Stick to your plan! Don’t let market fluctuations derail your retirement savings strategy.
  4. Work with a financial advisor. They can help you navigate market volatility and ensure you’re on track to reach your goals.

The most important thing is an ongoing strategy that works for you!

Bond Market Decline and Volatility In Summary

Although almost anyone would agree that having an investment strategy is essential, it’s not all that matters. There are more factors to consider like risk tolerance, time horizon, retirement, and investment goals. By understanding where you stand on all of those factors, you can determine the best course of action. 

One thing is sure: no one has a crystal ball, and nobody can predict the future. The best we can do is make informed decisions based on the best available information. The best way to make those decisions is by speaking to an investment advisor who can best assess your situation, goals, and preferences. 

The bottom line is that there are many things to consider when it comes to retirement investing. Of course, it’s important to do your homework and to understand the risks involved. But, if you take the time to plan carefully, you can find an investment strategy that will work for you.

This blog is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or financial advisors. The observations of industry trends should not be read as recommendations for stocks or sectors.

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