Saturday, October 31, 2015

CD 5-Year Report Card: Part 2 (Risk and Return)

In my previous blog post, CD 5-Year Report Card: Part 1, I compared the 5-year annualized return of a CD I bought about five years ago to the 5-year annualized return of a 5-year Treasury security (Treasury bond, or more formally, Treasury note) I could have bought on the same date. Although that's the most relevant comparison, it's not particularly interesting, since the annual percentage yield (APY) of the CD and the yield to maturity (YTM) of the Treasury basically predetermine the returns at time of purchase (assuming the CD or Treasury is held to maturity). 

(From now on, the term yield refers to yield to maturity (YTM) for a Treasury, other bond, or brokered CD (purchased through a broker), and it refers to the annual percentage yield (APY) for a direct CD (purchased directly from a bank or credit union). Also, the term return refers to annualized return).

In my next post, I'll review the 5-year returns for various bond funds, and compare them to the 5-year return of the CD. However, to evaluate these returns rationally, it's necessary to understand the relationship between risk and return for fixed-income securities, which is what I'll examine in this post.

Monday, October 26, 2015

CD 5-Year Report Card: Part 1

Now that the 5-year CDs I bought about five years ago are maturing, I thought it would be interesting to compare the 5-year CD returns to the 5-year returns of some other fixed-income alternatives I could have invested in five years ago. All we should really have to do is compare the APY (Annual Percentage Yield) of the 5-year CD to the YTM (yield to maturity) of the 5-year Treasury at the time of purchase, since that's the most appropriate comparison in terms of risk and expected return for the forward-looking 5-year period. 

Looking at past returns raises the issue of hindsight bias, or as Larry Swedroe refers to it, confusing strategy with outcome. Nevertheless, people seem to have a hard time not using past returns to evaluate their investments, so I'll compare some of the more relevant returns in this and the next one or two blog posts.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What To Do With Maturing CDs?

I started buying 5-year CDs directly from banks and credit unions ("direct CDs") about five years ago, because I learned about the advantages in terms of risk and expected return compared to bonds or bond funds. Perhaps you did too, either based on my musings or those of bloggers from whom I learned about direct CDs, like Allan Roth and The Finance Buff. Now that our CDs are starting to mature, what should we do?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Northwest FCU 3-year 3.04% Add-On CD

Today someone asked a question on the Bogleheads forum about saving for a house down payment in 3-5 years from now, so as part of answering the question, I checked the 3-year CD rates at I was flabbergasted to see a rate of 3.04% APY at the top of the list (with the closest competition at 1.85%). This is a promotional CD special ("Dream Fund Certificate") offered by Northwest Federal Credit Union (NWFCU), with a minimum deposit of $10,000 and maximum of $100,000. After finishing up my answer to the forum question, I quickly investigated the CD deal, then proceeded to complete the online application to join the credit union, open an account, and buy this CD. It took about 15 minutes.