Bonds: Total Market

(New York)

Safe 5% yields sound very enticing right now don’t they? Well, they are actually not as hard to find as you think if you take a broader perspective. That perspective is to look at standard municipal bonds and examine their real-world yields, or how they compare to taxable bonds. For instance, for a couple living in California with a $250k per year income, a municipal bond yielding 3.0% is equivalent to a taxable bond yielding a whopping 5.8%. This is because of the new tax system brought in by Republicans. One muni expert comments that “I would argue that munis are more attractive than they’ve ever been because, with the loss of various deductions, including SALT, one’s taxable income is higher than it’s ever been”.

FINSUM: This is a very good insight and one to which HNW individuals and advisors need to pay attention. Once investors really come around to this, it could spark a muni bond run.

(New York)

US Treasuries took a nose dive last week on fears over Italy. They fell from well over 3.1% to well under 2.9% very quickly. However, don’t get used to those levels. The reason why is that the underlying economy is fundamentally solid, with wages and jobs strong, growth solid, and corporate tax cuts likely to give a boost. The Fed also seems likely to continue hiking, even if only slowly.

FINSUM: All these reasons aside, our own view is that yields were on a solidly rising path until the Italy issue. Since we seen that as only a temporary problem (for global markets), we suspect bond investors will regain their views.

(New York)

Credit rating agency Moody’s has just put out a broad and scary warning to investors: when the economy turns around, we have may have a junk bond crisis on our hands. Moody’s says that there will be widespread junk bond defaults in the next recession stemming from huge issuance and heavy indebtedness. With rates so low following the Crisis, indebted companies issued hugely risky and burdensome debt that was eagerly gobbled up by investors. According to Moody’s “The record number of highly leveraged companies has set the stage for a particularly large wave of defaults when the next period of broad economic stress eventually arrives”.

FINSUM: All that issuance was always going to come back to bite. Credit-worthiness was low and investors gave up a lot of safeguards. It seems inevitable the bill will come due.

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