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Include safety by wandering overseas using bonds

Making your bond-fund portfolio less hazardous requires doing something that can feel like living perilously: investing abroad. If you’re like most individuals, you'll have to put as well much of your cash in bond reserves invested in your domestic market and so failed to spread your bets around.

A well-diversified portfolio might incorporate mutual funds or exchange-traded reserves that purchase bonds issued by the United States and foreign governments, and huge U.S. and foreign companies, as well as ones supported by mortgages, auto credits, or credit-card receivables within the United States.

Within the past, financial specialists might see the U.S. bond market as a proxy for the world, somewhat since U.S. companies frequently had sprawling worldwide operations, Mr. Boivin said. But there are gigantic global differences nowadays. Foreign markets, particularly China, have risen so much that this approach doesn’t work as well.

Someone’s exact stake in emerging-market bonds, or any particular bond subclass, will be decided by that person’s risk tolerance and other resources. BlackRock’s broadly differentiated Total Return Fund might give a starting point for considering sensible ranges. It recently distributed approximately 8.6 percent of its assets to developing markets.

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