(MoneyWatch) The interest rates on benchmark U.S. Treasury bonds, which have fallen to record lows this year, are suddenly rising.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond closed Wednesday at 1.81 percent, up 0.41 percentage points since July 24. The 5-year bond yield has increased to 0.75 percent, from 0.55 percent, on July over that time. This represents a 28 percent and a 36 percent increase in the 10-year and 5-year bond yields, respectively.
The Vanguard Total Bond Fund (BND) declined 1.1 percent during this same period. Bond values generally move in the opposite direction of interest rates.
Is this finally the beginning of the increasing rates that experts have
predicted for the last several years? Many have predicted a bond bubble
that so far hasn't happened. Or is this just another short-term rise
in rates that is likely to be short-lived? The Federal Reserve has stated it will
keep rates low for at least two more years, but the central bank has relatively
little control over anything other than short-term rates.
The truth is that nobody knows what will happen to longer-term rates. Experts have a history of being correct on the direction of these rates less than half of the time. Once certainty is that if rates do continue to rise, then we can expect the after-the-fact forecasts that they will continue to rise.