While politics have made ESG a controversial topic recently, there’s no denying the fact that its popularity is still soaring. That was made abundantly clear with the release of the Index Industry Association’s (IIA) sixth annual global benchmark survey, showing a surge in ESG benchmarks worldwide. According to the survey, the total number of indexes climbed internationally by 4.43% over the prior year, with ESG indexes worldwide increasing by 55%. However, the bigger news was that fixed-income ESG indexes surpassed equity ESG indexes for the first time. In fact, fixed-income ESG indexes increased by an unprecedented 95.8%. This breaks the previous record of 61.09% last year. While equity ESG index growth was slower, it still grew at a high rate of 24.15 percent. Muni indexes had the strongest year for non-ESG fixed income, rising 10.86%. Rick Redding, IIA’s CEO, said the following concerning the survey: “The index industry continues to meet the needs of the marketplace by creating innovative solutions. Highlighted again this year by record growth in ESG, index providers are empowering investors with the ability to define, track and better understand an ever-broadening range of financial markets, sectors, investment styles, and asset classes.”

Finsum:A recent index survey revealed that fixed-income ESG indexes have surpassed equity ESG indexes for the first time.

While income investors are certainly enjoying higher yields this year, the past decade had not been as kind. The low to flat interest rates over the past ten years may have helped propel the economy and markets since the financial crisis, but they also made it quite difficult for investors to find income. So, Wall Street firms got creative and created complex investment products that offered higher yields. But with rates rising this year, those same products are putting firms at risk, which is why they're jostling to hedge those positions by investing in derivatives that benefit from higher volatility in the market. However, those derivatives are making volatility in the US government bond market even worse. Treasuries were already experiencing massive swings as investors bought derivatives to lessen their bond risk, while dealers made long-volatility bets to hedge their own exposure. This combination led to a huge jump in the MOVE Index, which measures the implied volatility of Treasuries via options pricing. In October, the index breached 160, which is near the highest level since the financial crisis. With additional money betting on the ups and downs of bond yields, this is only going to add more fuel to the fire.

Finsum:As firms increase in their purchases of volatility-linked derivatives to hedge risk, the treasury market is expected to become even more volatile.

Investors were offloading ultra-short-term bond ETFs in a hurry ahead of the Fed’s most recent rate hike. The Federal Reserve’s announced its fourth-straight 75 basis-point interest-rate hike on Wednesday. Ultra-short-term bond ETFs, which are considered cash-like, saw some of the largest inflows this year as the Fed raised rates. However, it appears that investors have now had a change of heart. The iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF (SHV), which tracks U.S. Treasury bonds with maturities of one year or less, saw $2.5 billion in outflows on Tuesday in the fund’s largest one-day outflow on record, according to Bloomberg data. SHV wasn’t alone as a host of other ultra-short-duration funds also saw massive withdrawals earlier in the week. The record outflows suggest that traders believe rising Treasury yields may have topped out and they no longer need the safety that short-term bond ETFs provide. They are either open to more risk with longer duration bonds or are preparing for a potential recession.

Finsum:Ultra short-term bond ETFs are seeing massive outflows as traders extend into longer-duration bonds ahead of a potential recession.

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