(New York)

The credit market taught investors a very good lesson in the Crisis (not that many of them were paid attention to). One of those lessons was that the first signs of weakness in the market should be taken seriously, as they can be indicative of a pending meltdown. This occurred in 2007 before the cataclysm in 2008. It appears to be happening again now, as both US and European credit marks are showing some fault lines. For instance, the downgrade of GE is seen as a sign of weakness very similar to what occurred with Ford and GM in 2005.

FINSUM: There has been an extraordinary credit boom since the Crisis and there are bound to be consequences. The question is what the extent of those consequences will be. The market is starting to feel a bit like musical chairs.

(New York)

Here is an interesting fact for investors—municipal bonds tend to hold up well during periods of rising rates. The underlying tax benefits of the bonds mean their demand is well insulated even in such periods. The question is where to commit capital. Well, year-end tax loss selling is creating some interesting opportunities in closed end muni funds, says BlackRock. Some funds are selling at significant discounts to the NAVs, sometimes 10% or more. These funds tend to bounce back in the new year, which is called the “January effect”. The discount to NAV allows one to gain even if the prices of the underlying assets don’t budge.

FINSUM: Closed end muni funds look like a great place for some bargaining hunting until the end of the year.

(New York)

This is a tricky environment for income investing. On the one hand, rising rates generally mean better yields, but at the same time, the chance of rate-driven losses is high. What if investors wanted to get safe 5% yields? Doing so is a little bit tricky and requires a blend of riskier credit and a mix of durations. However, investors can get pretty close with some individual ETFs. For instance, BlackRock’s iBoxx $ Investment Grade Bond ETF yields 4.39% and has shorter dated maturities with comparable credit quality to other funds.

FINSUM: This seems like a good choice, but there are also a number of rate hedged ETFs that have similar yields and almost no interest rate risk.

Page 5 of 205

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