Bonds: High Yield

(New York)

The market has been extremely volatile this year and that has put many investors on edge, especially those nearing retirement who need to rely on their portfolios for regular income. Treasury yields have gotten so low that they are not a good source of yield. So where to turn? One option is fixed annuities, also called multi-year guaranteed annuities. In contrast to fixed-index annuities or equity-index annuities, the return on MYGAs is not tied to an index. Such MYGAs are currently offering spreads of as much as 300 bp over Treasuries, representing a strong opportunity for those who need guaranteed income.


FINSUM: Two things to bear in mind when considering these—they are generally quite illiquid as the money is “locked up”, and secondly, they do have default risk but often can have limited losses because of state guaranty associations.

(New York)

The yield environment is a terrible one for anyone who is seeking income from their investments, especially those in retirement who may be living on a fixed income. So where can investors seek strong domestic yields? Check out mortgage REITs. Mortgage REITs have long offered some of the highest yields in markets because of the leverage they utilize. Most of the group have yields over 10%. Look at the following names as an example: AGNC Investment Corp. (AGNC, yield 10.2%), Annaly Capital Management, Inc (NLY, 12.9%), Anworth Mortgage Asset Corporation (NH, 14%), and Armour Residential REIT (ARR, 12.3%).


FINSUM: So obviously mortgage REITs have significant interest rate risk, but can you imagine a period where interests rates seem less likely to rise?

(New York)

Anyone who has been looking at the bond markets is likely to be shocked at the recent moves in the space. Many “high yield” bonds (it is now necessary to use quotes) are yielding what very high quality investment grade bonds were just months ago. A recent sale saw $1 bn of new issuance for a BB+ company at a 3% yield. The huge move downward in bond yields is the result of the Fed’s unprecedented stimulus action, and in particular, their mandate to backstop corporate bonds.


FINSUM: The Fed’s actions have been so warping that they have called into question the very definition of a high yield bond. If every bond is backed by the Fed, then it makes perfect sense that their yields would equalize. In this way the market’s reaction is entirely predictable.

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