James Colby has more than 30 years of fixed income experience. Portfolio Manager of Municipal Bond ETFs at VanEck, he is known for his perspective on the U.S. municipal bond marketplace.
The various "cliffs" that we, and virtually the entire business community, have discussed and feared since last November, seem to have appeared suddenly and viciously, sending markets careening toward the fog of uncertainty. The market fall of the past five business days not only took many professionals by surprise, it seems to have cast the outlook into a curious state of confusion. I say that because, prior to the announcement (misinterpreted, in my opinion) last week by the Fed, economists and strategists were generally in agreement on the outlook for the markets and economic growth. Now, those views seem to me to be as difficult to grasp as a handful of Maine fog. Everyone has an opinion about why or what has happened. Uncertainty, however, is a mighty force which, in the case of muni investors, may cloud decision making. I offer what I consider to be some fog-piercing data points below that I hope make clear some essential realities muni investors can use to rebuild confidence.
I believe all of the above suggests that now is NOT the time to abandon municipals as a core strategy.
1Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures changes in the price level of a market basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households. AAA yield minus CPI equals inflation-free income. Source: Bloomberg as of 5/31/13. 2AAA Municipal Market Data (MMD) curve as of 6/21/13. The municipal to Treasury ratio is a comparison of the current yield of municipal bonds to U.S. Treasuries indicating whether municipal bonds offer attractive yields compared to Treasury yields. If the ratio is below 100%, municipal bonds are yielding less than Treasuries; if the ratio is above 100%, municipal bonds are yielding more than Treasuries.
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Municipal bonds are subject to risks related to litigation, legislation, political change, conditions in underlying sectors or in local business communities and economies, bankruptcy or other changes in the issuer’s financial condition, and/or the discontinuance of taxes supporting the project or assets or the inability to collect revenues for the project or from the assets. Bonds and bond funds will decrease in value as interest rates rise. Additional risks include credit, interest rate, call, reinvestment, tax, market and lease obligation risk. High-yield municipal bonds are subject to greater risk of loss of income and principal than higher-rated securities, and are likely to be more sensitive to adverse economic changes or individual municipal developments than those of higher-rated securities. Municipal bonds may be less liquid than taxable bonds.
The income generated from some types of municipal bonds may be subject to state and local taxes as well as to federal taxes on capital gains and may also be subject to alternative minimum tax.
Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss.
Investing involves substantial risk and high volatility, including possible loss of principal. Bonds and bond funds will decrease in value as interest rates rise. An investor should consider the investment objective, risks, charges and expenses of a fund carefully before investing. To obtain a prospectus and summary prospectus, which contain this and other information, call 800.826.2333. Please read the prospectus and summary prospectus carefully before investing.
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This website is published in the United States for residents of specified countries. Investors are subject to securities and tax regulations within their applicable jurisdictions that are not addressed on this website. Nothing on this website should be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell shares of any investment in any jurisdiction where the offer or solicitation would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction, nor is it intended as investment, tax, financial, or legal advice. Investors should seek such professional advice for their particular situation and jurisdiction.
Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. An investor should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. This and other information can be found in the appropriate regulatory documents made available for a specified country as designated in this website.