Monday, July 16, 2012
High Rates? Are You Delirious? - By Jason Zweig
Have today's insanely low interest rates driven investors insane?
Three closed-end funds offered by Cornerstone Advisors of Asheville, N.C., show that some investors have come to believe the impossible: that high yields can persist in a world where central banks have squashed down bond rates to next to nothing.
These people have deluded themselves into believing they are earning fat yields. In reality, they merely are getting their own money back—and you can't turn a fantasy into fact just by wishing it were so.
At Cornerstone, investors are receiving "distribution yields" of roughly 22% of net asset value, and the shares trade for much more than the value of their underlying assets. According to the WSJ Market Data Group, the Cornerstone funds are the three highest-yielding of the 657 closed-end funds in the U.S.
Most of the yield at Cornerstone, however, doesn't come from its investments. In past years, it came from giving investors some of their original assets back. Now, it comes out of money the funds' investors have just added.