TD Ameritrade Conference

No Risk of Higher Interest Rates This Year: Pro


Prognostications that there's a bond bubble ready to burst look overstated, said one panelist at the TD Ameritrade conference in San Diego on Friday.

Shane Shepherd, the head of fixed income research at Research Affiliates, said during a panel on ETFs that interest rates will be 2 percent at this time next year. The Federal Reserve's commitment to keep short-term interest rates low through 2015 is "a powerful statement," Shepherd said.

He also said that the country's debt overhang will take a long time to sort out and that will continue to keep growth sluggish and rates low.

"We have a path to get to a sustainable debt-to-GDP ratio," he said, "but it will take a very long time. Ten years from now we're going to be halfway there if we're lucky." (Read More: Tax Reform Will Be a 'Death Struggle': Alan Simpson)

He also said that the calls for a "great rotation" out of fixed income and into stocks in anticipation of higher interest rates are misplaced. If yields go up, long-term bonds will feel the pain, but Shepherd warned that stocks will not be immune. "There's a lot of risk in rising rates for equities," he said. (Read More: 'Great Rotation' Talk Is Premature: Fund Managers)

Shepherd predicts low returns for stocks and bonds, with stocks returning about 5 to 6 percent.

Jeremy Schwartz, director of research at ETF provider WisdomTree sees somewhat better returns for stocks as companies continue to hike dividends. "Stocks relative to bonds are as cheap as they've ever been," he said, adding that "bonds are very expensive in the U.S."

Schwartz likes emerging market dividend payers, noting that they're attractively valued at about nine times earnings.