Bonds: Total Market

(Miami)

FINSUM is at the Inside ETFs conference in Hollywood, FL this week, and we wanted to bring you a little live coverage. Yesterday, there was a major session at the event discussing the outlook for fixed income. The consensus was that even though the Fed has paused, there is now way to tell when rates may rise again. Further, while China’s economy looks weak right now, that could turn around rapidly in the event of a trade deal with the US. Finally, all of the five panelists discussing fixed income said the ”liquidity mismatch” between ETFs and fixed income instruments is overblown and that there is not nearly as much to worry about as some think.


FINSUM: Fixed income’s outlook is murky right now. On the one hand, the Fed has paused, but on the other, rates could start rising anytime. On balance, we do think the risk-reward is slightly in favor of a shorter-duration long position.

(New York)

Active funds have been much maligned in the press over the last couple of years. The rise of passive investing has drawn the value of active investing into question, and the media has focused lot of attention on large groups of underperforming funds. That said, active funds, at least in fixed income, are winning right now. In every period from one to ten-years, actively managed bond funds have outperformed ETFs. Such funds are less constrained in their ability to seek out safe high yields, whether that be in junk bonds or emerging markets.


FINSUM: In many ways this makes sense, as there are many more bonds than there are equities, which means that there is likely more alpha to be generated through an unconstrained approach.

(Washington)

The Fed is facing a herculean task, argues the Wall Street Journal. That task is to keep inflation at its target, while also steering a moderation in growth. In other words, how does the Fed keep inflation in check without causing a recession? One way to consider this challenge is to think about how the Fed may approach it: “focus more on the domestic economy and keep nudging interest rates higher to combat inflationary concerns, or pay greater attention to stresses abroad and in the markets, and hold rates steady or even nudge them lower”, says the WSJ.


FINSUM: We think this is not as hard as rumored. Our view is that the Fed should freeze rate hikes and broadcast that a long-term freeze is the plan. That should put the economy (and markets) on solid footing, and keep things from getting too out of hand.

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