Where Risk Hits Home

Ask most small investors if they would put money in junk bonds, and they would probably respond with a hearty no. But anyone who has a deposit in a savings and loan, holds an annuity from an insurance company, is vested in a pension plan, makes contributions to certain mutual funds or participates in a 401(k) retirement program probably has some exposure to the risk of junk bonds. In most cases, that is no cause for alarm. But in a few instances, investors have good reason to be wary.

Despite their name, junk bonds -- more politely known as high-yield, high-...

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