• Muni Nation

    Reality Check

    Jim Colby, Portfolio Manager
    May 30, 2014

    Total new municipal bond issuance in the U.S. was $102 billion year-to-date (YTD) ending May 23, 2014. Tax-exempt municipal bond issuance was $93 billion during the same period. The difference between the two was taxable municipal bond issuance.


    Total Muni Bond Issuance

    Taxable Muni Bond Issuance

    Tax-Exempt Muni Bond Issuance













    2014 (YTD)




    Source: Bloomberg as of May 23, 2014.

    As you look at the table above, consider overlaying this data mentally with the recent performance of the municipal indices (below). I believe this provides evidence that may support municipals until issuers regain their "mojo" and begin to bring new municipal bond deals to market in volume sufficient to sate current demand. So far this year, the issuance volume is well behind the average, even for the post-crash era, with no evidence, in my opinion, to suggest an immediate return to the "norm."

    Barclays Index Total Return
    As of 4/30/14

    3 Months (%) 

    YTD (%)

    Municipal Bond Index



    Municipal Long Bond Index



    Municipal High-Yield Index



    Municipal AAA Index



    Municipal AA Index



    Municipal A Index



    Municipal BAA Index



    Source: Bloomberg as of April 30, 2014.

    The Barclays Municipal Bond Index was up 10.70% in 2011 and 6.78% in 2012, but -2.55% in 2013. To me, this suggests that issuance volume alone may not be the only driver of performance.

    The reality check, as we head into the backstretch of the second quarter, is that I believe municipals could continue to perform if what appear to be improving underlying economies and credit characteristics at the state and local levels remain intact. In my opinion, both of these contribute to the demand on a market that seems to be starving for additional supply.

    The Barclays Municipal Bond Index covers investment-grade municipal bonds with a nominal maturity of one or more years. The AAA, AA, A, BAA, and long indices are subsets of this broader index. The Barclays Municipal High-Yield Bond Index covers below investment-grade municipal bonds with a nominal maturity of one or more years.



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