From Greece to Ireland to Portugal, every few months seems to bring a new debt crisis. Italy, Spain and France also have debt woes, and Japan's national debt is more than 200% of its GDP. Not that Americans have any reasons to feel smug about foreign fiscal flaws.

The world seems to be awash in debt, especially government debt. Considering that government issues are crucial to the world's bond markets, fixed-income investments have held up surprisingly well. The future is unknown, but some planners say they expect to deliver respectable returns by embracing prudence and rejecting panic.

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