It looks like alternative asset classes are writing a story of their own.

Someone say Kurt Vonnegut’s name written all over them? After all, he always seems to have one trick or another up his literary sleeve.

Its been a never before seen year in the equity and fixed income markets, according to fa-mag.com. Global equities receded close to 20% as of June 30. Meantime, high quality fixed income jetted backwards by around 10%. Historically? Well, it was the darkest start to a year in the bond market since, get this, 1842. Just keeps getting better, eh? 

Well, it’s a different ballgame for those asset classes. During the year, the cocktail of real estate, real assets, hedge funds, private equity and private debt nudged aside both equities and fixed income.

Okay, sure, alternative asset classes have caught a little heat for their fees, minimums and illiquidity. This year, however? Well, they’ve larded on a great deal of value. The question: will this trend sustain itself?

A release of its findings earlier this month of its most current Selling Retail Investment Products through Intermediaries Report, based on 810 confidential interviews of U.S.-based financial advisors in September, found a three point jump in the use of alternatives, according to insights.issgovernance.com. It was 39% in Q4 of 2021 to 42% in June of this year.

Inflation? Well, here’s some breaking news – even if CNN’s come to frown upon them lately: it’s still hitting nosebleed levels, according to gsam.com. What’s more, the wider economic environment, and the labor market, especially, has strutted its mettle.

Yeah; wow. Maybe – just maybe – the network will reconsider its spanking new policy.

In any event, it means the central banks will continue to rachet up rates. The question then becomes that since monetary policy impacts the economy with a lag, will they head north too far and quickly. From GSAM’s perspective, market stabilization will demand signs of inflation topping out, not to mention hawkishness and real yields.

”Higher inflation and higher growth volatility are propelling us into a higher yield environment, marking a departure from the post-financial crisis era,’ said Whitney Watson, global head of Fixed Income Portfolio Management, Construction & Risk at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. “Ultimately, we think this presents opportunities in high-quality fixed income assets, such as investment grade corporate bonds and agency MBS.”

Meantime, it seems bonds will be back in vogue with investors next year, according to schwab.com.

And it’s a real change of pace. Following subpar yields stretching years, and in the aftermath of the extremely hard knocks endured by prices in 2022, a bounce back appears to be in store in the fixed income markets.

JPMorgan Asset Management recently announced the upcoming launch of three new fixed-income BetaBuilders ETFs. The funds, which will launch in February, will provide exposure to the aggregate, investment-grade corporate, and high-yield corporate bond markets. All three will be converted from three existing actively managed ETFs. The JPMorgan BetaBuilders US Aggregate Bond ETF (BBAG) will be created from the $1.2 billion JPMorgan US Aggregate Bond ETF (JAGG). The fund, which will come with an expense ratio of 0.03%, will track the Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index and invest in Treasury, government-related, corporate, and securitized fixed-rate bonds from issuers worldwide. The JPMorgan BetaBuilders USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (BBCB) will be converted from the $40 million JPMorgan Corporate Bond Research Enhanced ETF (JIGB). BBCB will track the Bloomberg US Corporate Bond Index, consisting of investment-grade bonds from corporate issuers worldwide. The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.09%. The final ETF, the JPMorgan BetaBuilders USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (BBHY), will be created from the $400m JPMorgan High Yield Research Enhanced ETF (JPHY). BBHY will track the ICE BofA US High Yield Total Return Index, covering sub-investment-grade, corporate bonds issued in the US market. The fund has a slightly higher expense ratio of 0.15%


Finsum:JPMorgan adds to its suite of BetaBuilders ETFs with the upcoming launch of aggregate, investment-grade corporate, and high-yield corporate bond ETFs.

There is no doubt that government bond and corporate debt markets have taken a beating this year due to inflation and rising interest rates. But that may change next year if two fixed-income strategists are correct. On Tuesday, Gurpreet Gill, macro strategist, global fixed income at Goldman Sachs Asset Management said that “The year ahead is shaping up as the most promising for fixed income in over a decade.” While speaking at the Edelman Smithfield Investor Summit in London, Gill noted that valuations in fixed-income markets were looking more appealing than they were a year ago. This included emerging markets and corporate bonds. She stated, "We think it makes sense to be in high-quality short-duration assets, in agency mortgage-backed securities markets in the U.S." Gill isn’t alone in those thoughts. Sara Devereux, global head of Vanguard Fixed Income Group, said last Friday that “The recent debt rally brought the chance to reduce credit exposure and buy mortgage agency securities based on valuations, setting up what promises to be a bond picker’s paradise in the new year.”


Finsum:Two fixed-income strategists expect next year to be a great year for bond pickers due to lower valuations.

Invesco continues to expand its ETF lineup with the launch of four new actively managed ETFs. The new fund offerings include the Invesco AAA CLO Floating Rate Note ETF (ICLO), the Invesco High Yield Select ETF (HIYS), the Invesco Municipal Strategic Income ETF (IMSI), and the Invesco Short Duration Bond ETF (ISDB). All four funds were launched last Friday and trade on the CBOE. ICLO, which has an expense ratio of 0.26%, invests in floating-rate note securities issued by collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) that are rated AAA or equivalent. HIYS invests in higher quality below investment grade fixed income securities, such as corporate bonds and convertible securities. The fund charges 0.48%. IMSI has an expense ratio of 0.39% and invests in municipal securities exempt from federal income taxes and in other instruments that have similar economic characteristics. ISDB invests in fixed-income securities such as high-yield bonds and other similar instruments and aims to maintain a portfolio maturity and duration between one and three years. The ETF charges 0.35%.


Finsum:Invesco bolsters its active stable of ETFs with the launch of four fixed-income ETFs that invest in CLOs, high-yield bonds, munis, and short-duration bonds.

Tidal Financial Group recently announced the launch of the Senior Secured Credit Opportunities ETF (SECD), its first actively managed credit ETF. The fund, which is managed by Gateway Credit Partners seeks to generate consistent income and preserve capital by investing in a combination of first-lien senior secured loans and secured bonds to businesses operating in North America. Gateway is a value-based credit manager that focuses on capturing fundamental and technical inefficiencies in the leveraged loan and high-yield bond market. The firm focuses on generating true alpha which they define as yield per turn of leverage significantly greater than their representative indices. It believes a “size arbitrage” exists in credit markets as rating agency models can over-emphasize size vs credit fundamentals. Tim Gramatovich founder of Gateway had this to say about the ETF launch, “At over $3 trillion, the US loan and high-yield bond markets offer investors a tremendous opportunity to generate yield. We believe SECD fills a much-needed gap in the actively managed corporate credit space particularly as it relates to the loan market.”


Finsum:Tidal Financial Group recently launched an actively managed credit ETF that aims to take advantage of higher yields in the loan market.

With bond mutual funds experiencing record losses this year, many investors are headed for the exit. But most are not leaving fixed income altogether, they’re just swapping mutual funds for ETFs. The main reason is taxes. Many investors are selling positions in bond funds and putting the cash into similar ETFs to harvest tax losses. According to The Wall Street Journal, “This year is shaping up to be the biggest 'wrapper swap' on record.” About $454 billion has been pulled from bond mutual funds, while $157 billion has flowed into bond ETFs through the end of October. According to macro research firm Strategas, it would be the largest net annual swap to ETFs by a wide margin.” Todd Sohn, ETF strategist at Strategas stated, “The Fed is at its most aggressive in 40 years. Along with inflation, that has absolutely crushed bonds. It’s set off the acceleration of wrapper swapping that we have seen in equities for a while. Now we’re finally getting it in bonds.” Many of these swappers are also taking their money out of mutual funds that hold riskier bonds and putting them into safer Treasury ETFs.


Finsum:With the bond market experiencing its worst year since 1975, bond investors are trading mutual funds for ETFs at a record pace.

According to the results of a recent survey, fixed-income investors want more ESG data than what is currently available. A survey of 111 senior buy-side fixed-income investors, which was conducted by analytics firm Coalition Greenwich, found that 90% believe ESG is important to decision-making, but only a third have fully integrated ESG into their risk analysis. The reason for the large difference is a lack of ESG data. Coalition Greenwich’s senior analyst Stephen Bruel stated “It boils down to risk management. If you don’t have reliable ESG data about an issuer or issuance, then it’s harder to calculate what the negative consequences might be.” More than half of the respondents said it was “important to incorporate ESG in fixed-income portfolios to perpetuate corporate values,” but there’s a “gap between where the survey participants want the industry to be and where it actually is.” Data was listed as the largest obstacle to achieving these ESG goals. The concerns about ESG data quality included greenwashing and inconsistent ratings. Essentially, if the data isn’t reliable, then quantifying risk becomes harder, which could open up investors to sizeable losses. This is especially true with the calculation of climate risk, which would certainly benefit from more data.


Finsum: Based on the results of a recent survey, fixed-income professionals believe ESG is important, but a lack of data is preventing more of them from implementing an ESG strategy.

 

You go, ETFs. More and more, they’re a key component in the evolving fixed income terrain, according to insuranceaum.com. That tidbit surfaced in a survey of 700 institutional investors and investment decision makers.

The download on ETFs: 

  • Being leveraged for portfolio construction – and that includes non-core allocations
  • Playing a liquidity role as investors step up allocations to non-liquid sources of income
  • Helping to facilitate the internalization of fixed income management
  • Enabling investors to implement, with precision, ESG objectives

Meantime, the New York Stock Exchange’s not only about the peaks and valleys of the market.

And, hey, who doesn’t need a respite from that maddening merry go round?

Assets under management in fixed income ETFs swelled from $574 billion in 2017 to $1.28 trillion last year, according to data recorded by the exchange, reported ssga.com. Wait, there’s more: during the same timeframe, the number of funds leaped from 278 to almost 500.

Jump starting the juices on current income is the primary intent of ETF’s, according to entrepreneur.com. The story appeared originally in Stock News. Capital appreciation’s a secondary objective. The fund’s hopping, too, with $4.78 billion in assets under management, not to mention 1307 holdings.

The $4 trillion municipal debt market is expected to have a “bounce back year” in 2023, according to Charles Schwab’s Cooper Howard. The director and fixed-income strategist for the Schwab Center for Financial Research said in a recent Bloomberg TV interview that “A slower pace of interest-rate hikes, attractive yields, and relatively healthy state and local government finances should lure investors back after demand plunged this year.” He also stated “Credit quality is very high in the municipal bond market. State and local revenues have surged to record-level highs driven by the economic recovery. Given the rise in yields, it is more attractive for retail investors, so there will be more demand coming into the market.” Munis had fallen out of favor due to a combination of inflation and recessionary concerns. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, muni sales are down nearly 19% this year at about $351 billion. However, 10-year municipal yields have more than doubled since the start of the year. While recessionary fears may continue, the municipal market won’t be as affected due to healthy credit ratings. Howard expects municipal debt tied to public transportation to lead the rebound as the airline industry is bouncing back.


Finsum:Schwab strategist Cooper Howard predicts a bounce-back year for munis due to slow rate hikes, attractive yields, and healthy credit in state and local governments.

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