The $4 trillion municipal debt market is expected to have a “bounce back year” in 2023, according to Charles Schwab’s Cooper Howard. The director and fixed-income strategist for the Schwab Center for Financial Research said in a recent Bloomberg TV interview that “A slower pace of interest-rate hikes, attractive yields, and relatively healthy state and local government finances should lure investors back after demand plunged this year.” He also stated “Credit quality is very high in the municipal bond market. State and local revenues have surged to record-level highs driven by the economic recovery. Given the rise in yields, it is more attractive for retail investors, so there will be more demand coming into the market.” Munis had fallen out of favor due to a combination of inflation and recessionary concerns. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, muni sales are down nearly 19% this year at about $351 billion. However, 10-year municipal yields have more than doubled since the start of the year. While recessionary fears may continue, the municipal market won’t be as affected due to healthy credit ratings. Howard expects municipal debt tied to public transportation to lead the rebound as the airline industry is bouncing back.

Finsum:Schwab strategist Cooper Howard predicts a bounce-back year for munis due to slow rate hikes, attractive yields, and healthy credit in state and local governments.

Even though inflation continues to force the Fed’s hand on tightening, money managers are starting to rebuild their exposures toward Treasuries, with the hope that the highest payouts in years will help cushion portfolios from the damage inflicted by additional rate hikes. For instance, Morgan Stanley believes that a multi-asset income fund can find some of the best opportunities in decades in dollar-denominated securities such as inflation-linked debt and high-grade corporate obligations. That’s because interest payments on 10-year Treasuries have hit 4.125%, the highest since the financial crisis. In addition, PIMCO estimates that long-dated securities, which have been hit hard due to the Fed’s hawkishness, will bounce back if a recession should occur. They believe that a recession would ignite the bond-safety trade, where government debt would act as a hedge in the much-maligned 60/40 portfolio. Essentially, higher income and lower duration are helping to make the case that bonds will have a much better 2022. While inflation and liquidity concerns remain, the median in a recent Bloomberg survey shows “dealers, strategists and economists project bond prices will rise modestly in tandem with cooling inflation, with the 10-year US note trading at 3.5% by end of next year.”

Finsum:A combination of higher income payments and lower duration has money managers becoming more bullish on treasuries.

According to Bloomberg data, the iShares iBoxx $Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) saw $3 billion in outflows on Monday, its largest one-day outflow since the fund’s inception twenty years ago. The exodus was quite the reversal for LCD as the ETF saw six straight weeks of inflows. The fund was up 9% between October 20th and Friday, with investors pouring money back into credit with the hope that the Fed might slow down the pace of rate hikes. However, those hopes fell as St Louis Fed President James Bullard warned that “markets are underpricing the risk that the central bank will have to be more aggressive rather than less aggressive.” In response, LQD dropped 0.7% on Monday, its worst performance in over a month. As of Monday’s close, the ETF was down 19% for the year, its biggest loss ever. Peter Chatwell, head of global macro strategies trading at Mizuho International told Business Insider that “The fund’s recent rebound likely exacerbated the withdrawals as year-end approaches. Clearly, at this time of year, some money gets taken out of the market, particularly if performance has recently been strong, which with LQD it has.”

Finsum:LQD saw its largest one-day outflow ever as St Louis Fed President James Bullard warned that the Fed will need to become more aggressive, not less aggressive.

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