Play The Yield Game, But Don't Be Timid

In regard to your story "The yield game" (Cover Story, Dec. 6), I got a mixed message. Encouraging investors to emerge "from the money-market womb" is wise, but assessing a move from money markets to 10-year U.S. Treasury notes as a "moderate risk" sounds like Caspar Milquetoast.

You actually encourage the reader's risk-aversion by making such timid judgments. Seven pages of text and charts create the impression that 8% annual yield is a big deal requiring great risk. However, many of the stock mutual funds you listed recently ("Mutual funds are fat--and investors are happy," Finance, Oct. 11) have historically returned far more than 8% and with probably lower cumulative risk than the income instruments you note as yielding high returns. In our new low-inflation era, can growth stocks sustain the advantage? We'll have to wait and see, but probably yes.

Wouldn't it be better for the average investor, and for the economy, if you had promoted a balanced portfolio of income and growth stocks, government and corporate securities, and cash? Such a portfolio provides returns from income and from capital gains, yet loses most of its volatility over a 10-year horizon.

The average American needs more education about how time and diversity affect risk. Over a moderate period, diversifying among instruments reduces overall risk and can create returns greater than one could readily find clutching only yield-producers. BUSINESS WEEK should provide readers that kind of balanced perspective and beat the "yield" drum in a sidebar.

Clark Nickerson

Charlotte, N.C.

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