The No-Stock Portfolio

Try these investments to earn a decent return with less risk.

I'm starting to lose count of how many financial planners and investment advisers have been telling me lately what a great time this is to buy stocks. You've probably heard their basic argument: Share prices are cheap relative to earnings, cash dividends, historical growth rates and various arcane yardsticks. If you invest at these levels, or at least stick by your bullet-riddled stocks and mutual funds, say the pros, your fortitude will pay off by 2010, maybe even sooner.

Many of these same experts are quick to howl that Treasury bonds, the most-successful investments of 2008, are massively overpriced. With one-month Treasury bills yielding virtually nothing and ten-year Treasury notes paying a scant 2.5%, the government has switched from offering low-risk investments to providing cold storage. I cannot recommend that anyone buy Treasury securities at these rates.

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Jeffrey R. Kosnett
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Kosnett is the editor of Kiplinger's Investing for Income and writes the "Cash in Hand" column for Kiplinger's Personal Finance. He is an income-investing expert who covers bonds, real estate investment trusts, oil and gas income deals, dividend stocks and anything else that pays interest and dividends. He joined Kiplinger in 1981 after six years in newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun. He is a 1976 journalism graduate from the Medill School at Northwestern University and completed an executive program at the Carnegie-Mellon University business school in 1978.