Displaying items by tag: rates

Saturday, 25 May 2024 11:33

Robust Growth Outlook for Private Credit

According to panelists at the SALT conference, private credit will continue to experience strong growth over the next few years. Additionally, they believe that reports of banks stepping in to more aggressively compete with private credit lenders are overblown. Instead, there’s more likely to be partnerships between private credit investors and banks in terms of originating deals and arranging terms.

Michael Arougheti, the co-founder and CEO of Ares Management, sees private credit compounding at an annual rate of 15% for the next decade. He sees growth driven by cyclical and secular factors such as companies staying private for longer, the current high-rate environment, and many ‘good’ borrowers with weak balance sheets. Another factor is the billions being raised for private credit funds across Wall Street. 

Panelists also agreed that there are many selective opportunities in fixed income and credit at the moment. And more opportunities should emerge over the next year, especially with rates staying higher for longer. Arougheti believes that there will be more opportunities created by the lack of liquidity. This underscores another difference between the current environment and past cycles for distressed debt - weakness is not sector-specific, rather, it’s more rate-induced. 


Finsum: At the SALT conference, panelists agreed that despite headlines, private credit markets will see strong growth over the next few years. They also see more attractive opportunities emerging given high rates and limited liquidity. 

Published in Alternatives

Entering 2024, the consensus was that the Federal Reserve would be cutting rates in the back half of the year in response to falling inflation and a slowing economy. This has major implications for private real estate, given that trillions of dollars in loans are maturing over the next couple of years. 

Yet, economic data and inflation have been more resilient than expected. Now, rate cut odds have narrowed, while there is some chatter that the Fed may have to tighten further. Currently, the Fed continues to signal that its next move is to cut rates, albeit later and to a lesser extent than previously thought. 

Still, this is likely to be uncomfortable for many borrowers, as many are holding onto properties based on the belief that rates will be lower, leading to more favorable selling or refinancing conditions. This is especially the case for those exposed to floating-rate debt. 

According to Richard Mack, the CEO and co-founder of Mack Real Estate Group, “People are paying to hold assets, but unless rents rise quickly, eventually asset prices will have to adjust to rates instead of hoping and anticipating rate decreases. In essence, you have to pay to wait and see what kind of recovery transpires, which is different from past cycles where interim cash flow paid you to wait for appreciation.” 


Finsum: Many were confident that conditions for real estate would improve as the Fed eased policy in the second half of the year. Now, many borrowers are likely to face increased stress as rate-cut expectations have been scaled back.

Published in Alternatives

In its Q2 active fixed income commentary, Vanguard discussed lowering rate hike expectations for 2024 due to strong economic data, while inflation remains stubbornly above the Fed’s desired levels. 

Despite the odds of a soft landing declining, Vanguard’s base-case scenario is that the Fed is done hiking and will hold rates at these levels until later this year. A risk to the firm’s outlook is inflation lingering above 3%, which would spark discussion about the need for further rate hikes. 

It sees monetary policy as remaining data-dependent and notes that the Fed has limited room to maneuver. The central bank risks another surge in inflation by cutting rates too soon, but it also risks a prolonged recession by cutting rates too late. 

Despite this uncertainty, Vanguard believes that there will be opportunities amid higher market volatility. It recommends investors take advantage of locking in attractive yields for longer durations and sees potential for better risk-adjusted returns in bonds vs. equities. Over the next 5 years, Vanguard forecasts returns of 4.5% for stocks and 4.3% for bonds. However, bonds are expected to have one-third of the volatility of stocks at 5.2% vs. 15.8%. 


Finsum: Vanguard shared its quarterly active fixed income outlook. The firm is downgrading its expectations for rate cuts in 2024, given recent economic data. Instead, it sees more opportunities in other parts of the fixed-income market.

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Saturday, 18 May 2024 13:00

Fixed Income Sector Thriving

2024 has proven to be a year of relentless volatility for fixed income, given mixed signals about inflation, the economy, and monetary policy. However, there are plenty of opportunities to make money amid these conditions. 

A consequence of high rates is that the US government is expected to pay more than $1 trillion in interest to bondholders this year, which is more than double the average from the previous decade. Currently, all Treasury securities are yielding more than 4%, and due to elevated rates, investors have a higher margin of safety. This means that fixed income is once again a source of meaningful income for investors and serves as a counterweight to equities.

Deal flow also remains robust, which is a positive for underwriters and sponsors. According to Bloomberg, bankers who underwrite bond offerings are expected to see a 25% increase in bonuses. In terms of sales and trading, bonuses are expected to rise by 20%, compared to an increase of 5% to 15% for equities. 

Another trend in fixed income is the electronication of the bond market. Traditionally, bond trading has been done over the phone or through banks, which has resulted in illiquidity and less price discovery. 

Now, volume is moving to electronic bond exchanges, which is benefiting market makers like Citadel Securities and Jane Street. These firms are now making markets in government and corporate bonds. It’s estimated that 42% of investment-grade debt trades were electronic last year, compared to 31% in 2021.


Finsum: Entering the year, many were confident that Fed rate cuts would fuel a bull market in bonds. This has failed to materialize, but there have been opportunities in fixed income.

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Tuesday, 14 May 2024 10:24

Growing Concerns Over Private Credit

At the annual Milken Institute Global Conference, many expressed concerns that, as rates remain elevated, there is increasing liquidity risk for some borrowers. So far, robust economic growth has masked these underlying issues, but many borrowers would be vulnerable in the event of an economic downturn.

So far, default rates have remained low. Skeptics contend that this is due to amendments made to loan terms, leading to maturity extensions and payment arrangements. Ideally, these maneuvers would buy time for borrowers until monetary conditions eased. 

Yet, economic data has not been supportive of this outcome so far in 2024, leading to more stress for borrowers and concerns that defaults could spike. According to Katie Koch, the CEO of the TCW Group, “This cannot be extended forever. Eventually, those default rates will rise.” Danielle Poli adds, “It is going to be ugly. Many of these companies are burdened with excessive leverage, with holes in their covenants like Swiss cheese.”

Some investors sense opportunity as there has been an increase in bridge loans to borrowers, searching for liquidity. Oaktree Capital has reduced exposure to syndicated loans and raised cash levels to take advantage of any dislocations. In addition to bridge loans, there is also increasing demand for hybrid capital, which is in between senior debt and equity and provides liquidity and cash flow relief to borrowers.


Finsum: At the annual Miliken conference, Wall Street heavyweights warned that as rates remain elevated for longer, borrowers are getting more stressed and that a spike in defaults is looming.

Published in Alternatives
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