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Risks and Returns of Low-Grade Bonds: An Update (Reprint 027)


  • Marshall E. Blume
  • Donald B. Keim


This paper updates previous analyses of the risks and returns of low-grade bonds to include 1990, a year during which the low-grade bond market experienced dramatic changes. The annual return of 8.7 percent for low-grade bonds over the 1977-1990 period is lower than the returns on long-term Treasury bonds, long-term corporate bonds, the S&P 500 or small stocks over the same span. Much of this poor relative performance can be traced to the 1989-1990 period when low-grade bonds realized an average annual loss of 5.4 percent. During this same period, small stock prices also fell dramatically. The high degree of correlation between the returns of low-grade bonds and small stock during the entire period of analysis, but especially in the latter half of 1990, suggests that a factor common to both small stocks and low-grade bonds can explain a significant portion of the losses of low-grade bonds over this latter period.

Suggested Citation

  • Marshall E. Blume & Donald B. Keim, "undated". "Risks and Returns of Low-Grade Bonds: An Update (Reprint 027)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 15-91, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:15-91

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-346, April.
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    4. Avner Bar-Ilan & Alan S. Blinder, 1988. "Consumer Durables and the Optimality of Usually Doing Nothing," NBER Working Papers 2488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Pok-Sang Lam, 1991. "Permanent Income, Liquidity, and Adjustments of Automobile Stocks: Evidence from Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 203-230.
    6. Andrew S. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 703-725.
    7. Merton, Robert C, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 247-257, August.
    8. Ben S. Bernanke, 1984. "Permanent Income, Liquidity, and Expenditure on Automobiles: Evidence from Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 587-614.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frank K. Reilly & David J. Wright & James A. Gentry, 2009. "Historic Changes in the High Yield Bond Market," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 21(3), pages 65-79.

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