Franklin Templeton is optimistic about fixed income in the coming year due to the Federal Reserve ending its hiking cycle, and inflation continuing to trend lower. However, it believes that rates will remain at these levels for much of 2024 in order for inflation to fall to the Fed’s desired level, leading to a more challenging environment in the first-half of the year.
Amid this backdrop, the firm is bullish on municipal bonds especially with so many investors on the sidelines, overweight cash, or in short-term credit. Municipal bonds offer historically attractive yields, favorable tax treatment, and a longer-duration which should outperform in an environment with falling rates and a flattening yield curve.
The firm notes that local governments remain in strong shape from a fiscal perspective even despite a slowdown in economic activity and rising costs. Many still have excess funds leftover from federal aid during the pandemic and have been relatively disciplined in terms of spending. Further, muni bonds have lower default rates than corporate credit while also having higher after-tax returns. Franklin Templeton believes many investors will reallocate from money markets into municipal bonds in order to lock in yields at these levels especially as monetary policy eases.
Finsum: Franklin Templeton is bullish on fixed income in the coming year. It also highlights a bullish case for municipal bonds due to the sector’s strong fundamentals and favorable positioning in this macro environment.