Bonds: Total Market

Last week, over $10.2 billion went into U.S.-listed ETFs, with the majority going into fixed-income funds. Bond ETFs pulled in $4.5 billion according to ETF.com data. This followed the previous week’s $7.8 billion in inflows that went into bond funds. In the first week in January, fixed-income products pulled in $9.4 billion, a jump from $1.5 billion in the last week of December. Investors are flocking to fixed-income exchange-traded funds as recession warnings ring louder. Investors are jumping from stocks to bonds as they are often seen as a safer investment during economic downturns. Earlier in the month, Bloomberg News reported that Wall Street firms are sounding the alarm for a recession in 2023. BlackRock’s Investment Institute stated that “a recession is foretold,” while Barclays is predicting “one of the weakest years for the world economy in 40 years.” This also comes after multiple Fed officials have predicted interest rates remain elevated for the foreseeable future. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly said in a streamed interview with the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago that “I think something above 5[.0%] is absolutely, in my judgment, going to be likely.” Her comments come a week after Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari stated that the “central bank’s so-called terminal rate could reach as high as 5.4% before easing,” in a post on Medium.


Finsum:As Wall Street firms sound the alarm on a potential recession, investors are flocking to fixed-income ETFs, which are seen as safer investments during economic downturns.

Last year, portfolios that were allocated to 60% stocks and 40% bonds were hammered, as both the stock and bond markets sustained heavy losses. The portfolio has generally yielded steady gains with lower volatility since the two asset classes typically move in opposite directions. However, the strategy backfired last year after the Fed’s tightening policy sent stocks tumbling from record highs and drove Treasuries to the worst losses since the early ‘70s. This made advisors and investors question the viability of the 60/40 model. But the bond market’s selloff last year pushed yields so high that analysts at BlackRock, AQR Capital Management, and DoubleLine expect fixed-income securities to breathe new life into 60/40 portfolios. This year, both stocks and bonds have gained, propelling the 60/40 portfolio to the best start to a year since 1987. Their view is supported by the expectations that the Fed is nearing the end of its tightening policy as inflation comes down. If this view turns out to be correct, it reduces the risk of bond prices falling again and allows them to once again serve as a hedge against a potential drop in equities stemming from a recession. In a note to clients, Doug Longo, head of fixed-income strategists at Dimensional Fund Advisors, wrote “Expected returns in fixed income are the highest we’ve seen in years.”


Finsum:Based on the view that the Fed is nearing the end of its tightening cycle, analysts expect fixed-income securities to once again serve as a hedge against stocks in the 60/40 portfolio.

Blackrock expanded its fixed-income ETF lineup with the launch of the BlackRock AAA CLO ETF (CLOA). The fund, which was launched on January 10th, seeks to provide capital preservation and current income by investing principally in a portfolio composed of U.S. dollar-denominated AAA-rated collateralized loan obligations (CLOs). According to Investopedia, a CLO is a bundle of loans that are ranked below investment grade. While the underlying loans are rated below investment grade, most CLO tranches are typically rated investment grade due to credit enhancements and diversification. CLOs have historically only been available to institutional investors, but Janus Henderson launched the first CLO fund in an ETF wrapper in October 2020. That fund, the Janus Henderson AAA CLO ETF (JAAA) was clearly able to find an audience since the fund currently has close to $2 billion in assets under management. This bodes well for CLOA, which has an expense ratio of 0.20%, six basis points cheaper than JAAA. Investors have been attracted to CLOs due to low volatility, low downgrade risk, and low correlations with traditional fixed-income assets. CLOA currently has a weighted average coupon of 5.40 and a weighted average maturity of 4.24 years.


Finsum: Blackrock launched an AAA CLO ETF to take advantage of investor CLO interest due to low volatility, low downgrade risk, and low correlations with traditional fixed income.

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