The utility here is that accessing individual bonds can be tough for do-it-yourselfers in terms of friendly pricing or in terms of proper analysis for certain types of corporate or muni bonds.
The bigger picture of course is an old theme which is investment products evolving to allow ever more thoroughly diversified portfolios.
One of the newer funds is the iShares
A broader fund that has been around for a while is the iShares (still) Lehman Government/Credit Bond Fund (GBF) which has been around for a while, is relatively short, has been yielding in the fours of late and is comprised of 38% treasuries, 19% agencies, 16% industrials, 13% financials and a few smaller ones from there.
One you may find along the way is the iShares Lehman MBS Fund (MBB). Similar to AGZ a lot or mortages (obviously) but the difference is that AGZ is backed by the full faith and credit of the US government where as MBB is backed by the assets.
One last one to mention is the iShares Lehman Credit Bond Fund (CFT) which focuses on corporates with a 39% weight in industrials and a 33% weight in financials. If you look at this one you'll see it has been on a wild ride. I'm not sure what weight financials used to have but there are quite a few issues in the fund trading in the 80's or lower.
I would like to see a convertible bond ETF and a developed foreign bond ETF (they have been filed for). A convertible bond ETF would have been hit hard in the meltdown but I think it would have done better than the CEFs.
I am still convinced that equities are by far the best shot at having a financial plan work but I also can see the psychological need to allocate more to lower octane investments like fixed income is supposed to be.
Last night we got around to watching Whale Wars in the Tivo. It is on Animal Planet on Friday nights. Holy crap, it is wild. Trust me, tape the show and watch it.