Bond Ladders and Optimal Portfolios

44 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2008 Last revised: 23 Feb 2018

See all articles by Kenneth L. Judd

Kenneth L. Judd

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Felix Kubler

University of Zurich; Swiss Finance Institute

Karl Schmedders

University of Zurich

Date Written: June 17, 2009

Abstract

Many bond portfolio managers argue that bond laddering tends to outperform other bond investment strategies because it reduces both market price risk and reinvestment risk for a bond portfolio in the presence of interest rate uncertainty. Despite the popularity of bond ladders as a strategy for managing investments in fixed-income securities, there is surprising little reference to this subject in the economics and finance literature. In this paper we analyze complex bond portfolios within the framework of a dynamic general equilibrium asset-pricing model. Equilibrium bond portfolios are nonsensical, implying a trading volume that vastly exceeds observed trading volume on financial markets. Such portfolios would also be very costly and thus suboptimal in the presence of even very small transaction costs. Instead portfolios combining bond ladders with a market portfolio of equity assets are nearly optimal investment strategies, which in addition would minimize transaction costs. This paper, therefore, provides a rationale for bond ladders as a popular bond investment strategy.

Keywords: Bond ladders, reinvestment risk, portfolio choice, bonds, consol

JEL Classification: G11, G12

Suggested Citation

Judd, Kenneth L. and Kubler, Felix E. and Schmedders, Karl, Bond Ladders and Optimal Portfolios (June 17, 2009). Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 08-32. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1289257 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1289257

Kenneth L. Judd

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP) ( email )

5735 S. Ellis Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Felix E. Kubler

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Swiss Finance Institute

c/o University of Geneva
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Geneva 4
Switzerland

Karl Schmedders (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Moussonstrasse 15
Zürich, CH-8044
Switzerland
+41 (0)44 634 3770 (Phone)

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