Bonds have enjoyed a three-decade-long bull market, but the double-digit interest rates of 30 years ago are nearing zero today and have nowhere left to fall. The Federal Reserve has said it expects to keep interest rates low through mid-2015, but does that mean bonds will be a safe bet for another two years? Don't count on it.

While the Fedhas virtual control overshort-term interestrates, it has little control over intermediate- and long-term rates. In an effort to drive down long-term rates as well, the Fedinitiated Operation Twist, under which it sells short-term bonds and buys long-term bonds - but markets haven't cooperated. The 10-year Treasury bond rate actually rose to 2.43% from 1.88% in the five weeks following the announcement of the program in September 2011.

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