At four years and counting, the low-yield environment for bond looks likely to continue well beyond 2012 and has caused many investors to sit on the sidelines and miss out on additional income, according to Kathy Jones, vice president and fixed income strategist for the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

"It used to be that you would buy a maturity and forget it, but it's a little more complex than that," says Jones, who has authored a new research paper on the subject. "It's just a more challenging world of bonds these days."

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