Displaying items by tag: fixed income

Thursday, 18 April 2024 14:29

Bond SMA Explosion

There has been widespread adoption of separately managed accounts starting in the mid  2000s. The rationale for managing fixed income assets in this manner remains pertinent today: transparency, flexibility, transaction cost management, and active management are paramount in fixed-income investing. 

SMAs offer tailored portfolio management to meet clients’ fixed-income objectives, including tax management, income production, and specific investment restrictions, setting them apart from pooled vehicles like mutual funds and ETFs. The growth in SMAs for fixed income has been remarkable, with assets in SMA municipal fixed-income investments expanding from $100 billion in 2008 to $718 billion by Q2 2023, according to Citi Research. 

The advantages of SMAs, such as enhanced customization and efficiency, have fueled their increasing adoption by investors seeking precise control and personalized solutions in managing their fixed-income portfolios.

Finsum: Tailored financial products deliver a more personalized client experience and SMAs provide an avenue to improved relationships.


Published in Wealth Management

Active fixed income demand is surging. The secular drivers are increased comfort and adoption by advisors and investors with the category, in addition to the conversion of actively managed fixed income mutual funds into ETFs. From a cyclical perspective, the current environment, which has attractive yields but considerable uncertainty about the Fed and economy, also favors active fixed income strategies.

Despite its growth, active fixed income makes up less than 4% of allocations, revealing that there is more upside. As long as the Fed remains in a wait-and-see mode, active fixed income is likely to remain in favor. And this period of uncertainty has certainly been extended following the recent string of robust inflation and labor data. 

This type of rate environment requires a more flexible and agile approach, which is better suited for active fixed income. According to Bryon Lake, JPMorgan Asset Management Global Head of ETF Solutions, “To me, it’s all about active fixed income. With what is happening in the rate space, investors are all rethinking their fixed income allocations as we speak. We want to talk about active fixed income … where investors can dial in the exposures that they’re looking to get in the ETF wrapper.”

Finsum: Current uncertainty about the timing and number of Fed rate cuts in 2024 has been a major contributor to the growth of active fixed income. And this uncertainty has increased following recent economic data. 

Published in Bonds: Total Market

Stocks and bonds have been weaker since Wednesday’s stronger than expected inflation report. While some on Wall Street are now questioning whether the Fed will be able to cut rates at all, Rick Rieder, Blackrock’s head of fixed income, continues to see rate cuts later in the year.

He notes that Thursday’s PPI report was softer than expected and an indication that most inflation is contained in the services sector. He doesn’t believe that monetary policy could have too much impact on this type of inflation and that it would have damaging effects on other parts of the economy. Overall, he sees recent data consistent with core PCE at 2.6-2.7%.

He believes the current data justifies between one and two rate cuts before year-end. However, he believes that the data could still evolve in a way that justifies more. With rates above 5% and core PCE below 3%, monetary policy is very restrictive, so he believes the Fed will lower rates regardless.

In terms of fixed income, Rieder is bullish on short-duration notes, as investors can get yields between 6% and 7%. He sees the 10-year Treasury yield modestly declining into year-end due to softer economic data and the Fed cutting rates. However, longer-term, he believes that it is range-bound between 4% and 5%.

Finsum: Many on Wall Street are starting to turn more pessimistic about the Fed’s ability to cut rates given recent inflation data. Blackrock’s Rick Rieder still sees cuts later in the year, even if the data doesn’t significantly improve.

Published in Bonds: Total Market

Treasury yields jumped higher following the hotter than expected March CPI report. The 10-year Treasury yield moved above 4.5%. It has now retraced more than 50% of its decline from its previous high in late October above 5%, which took it to a low of 3.8% in late December, when dovish hopes of aggressive rate cuts by the Fed peaked.

Clearly, recent labor market and inflation data have not been consistent with this narrative. In March, prices rose by 3.5% annually and 0.4% monthly, above expectations of a 3.4% annual increase and 0.3% monthly gain. Core CPI also came in above expectations. 

Instead of trending lower, inflation is accelerating. Now, some believe that the Fed may not be able to cut rates given the stickiness of inflation. Additionally, economic data remains robust, which also means the Fed can be patient before it actually starts lowering the policy rate. 

Some of the major contributors to the inflation report were shelter and energy costs. Both were up 0.4% and 2.2% on a monthly basis and 5.7% and 2.7% on an annual basis. Shelter, in particular, is interesting because its expected deceleration was central to the thesis that falling inflation falling would compel the Fed to cut.

Finsum: The March CPI came in stronger than expected, leading to an increase in Treasury yields. As a result, we are seeing increasing chatter that the Fed may not cut at all. 

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Tuesday, 09 April 2024 17:50

Private Equity Sales Pick Up

Investors are selling their private equity holdings at a discount on secondary markets in order to reduce exposure to the asset class. Last year, there was $112 billion in secondary market transactions, the second-highest since 2017. According to Jefferies, 99% of private equity transactions were made at or below net asset value last year. This is an increase from 95% and 73% in 2022 and 2021, respectively. 

It’s a result of the depressed atmosphere for M&A and IPOs, which have been the typical path for private equity exits. However, these outlets have been offline for most of the past couple of years due to the Fed hiking rates to combat inflation. 

Many of the sellers have been pension funds that are required to make regular payments to beneficiaries. Prior to this cycle, private equity was lauded for its steady returns and low volatility, leading pension funds to increase allocations from 8% in 2019 to 11% last year. 

Private equity’s appeal has also dimmed, given that higher rates can be attained with fixed income and better liquidity. In contrast, private equity thrived when rates were low, as it led to robust M&A and IPO activity in addition to more generous multiples. 

One silver lining is that as the Fed nears a pivot in its policy, there has been some narrowing of discounts. According to Jefferies, the average discount from net asset value has dropped from 13% to 9%. 

Finsum: Many investors in private equity are exiting positions at a discount due to liquidity concerns. Now, some institutional investors are rethinking their decision to increase allocations.


Published in Alternatives
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