Bonds: High Yield

The overall bond market is almost a bust this year but investors flocking for a yield can only go to one place, junk bonds. Lending conditions are very loose with all the accommodations both fiscal and monetary policy made this year, and those attempting to stream any income have to learn to high-yield debt. Inflation is eating up anything to be gained in treasuries. Investors are now treating high yield debt like a more liquid asset than ever purely because traditional bonds are losing to inflation. All of the policy measures have made many feel corporate debt is less risky than ever but the excess demand may be tipping, as even some of the riskiest debt is being sought after. Still high nominal economic growth is good for borrowers and reduces to investors.


FINSUM: Investors should be aware of interest rates pass-through from Fed tightening to corporate debt, strong inflation could lead to weaker pass through and even lower spreads than the market is already seeing.

(New York)

By any reasonable measure, high yield bond markets look very scary right now. The way that yields have plummeted, the way that covenants have weakened, and the general ease of accessing credit are all reminiscent of 2005. Spreads over Treasuries have fallen to just 300 bp. A year ago they were at 600 bp. Companies have successfully weakened investor protections in new issues without penalty, and crucially, default rates will likely fall below 1% this year. The picture was the same in 2005.


FINSUM: By the Crisis, default rates hit 14% and high yield investors got killed. However, a big correction in high yield would take a catalyst. Is it a sooner-than-expected Fed pullback?

(New York)

There has been a lot of worry about bond prices recently. With inflation rising steeply and the bond market still regaining its footing, it is easy to worry about another sharp selloff. Because junk bonds are on the riskier end of the fixed income spectrum, many think there is more risk in this area. However, the opposite is true, especially in a rising economy. Because they tend to have higher yields and shorter terms, junk bonds naturally have less rate risk. Additionally, because of their underlying financials, junk bonds have a lot to gain in a rising economy. For example, they may be likely to get upgraded, and because of their relatively weak financial positioning to begin with, even minor gains can mean substantial valuation improvements.


FINSUM: If you need income, then high yield bonds are one of the best bets given their natural rate hedging and their potential for significant financial improvement.

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