Illinois and California: Similar Challenges, Different Approaches

Joe Rosenblum (pictured), Neene Jenkins and John Ceffalio Every state faces challenges when it comes to balancing the books, but not every state is equally effective at tackling them. The responses of California and Illinois to post-2008 difficulties show how different the approaches can be—and how much is at stake.

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GSE Reform Lumbers Up to the Starting Gate

Momentum is finally building to do something with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bipartisan Corker-Warner proposal, now making the rounds on Capitol Hill, aims to dissolve the GSEs and start fresh. Meanwhile, Fannie and Freddie are testing innovative mortgage-security structures that transfer the risk of borrower defaults to the private sector.

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Beware the Dangerous Stretch for Yield

The US Federal Reserve talked in early summer about tapering its quantitative easing plan and raising interest rates—in part to stop investors from chasing yield into the arms of riskier loans. In the high-yield market, however, the conversation had exactly the opposite effect.

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How Much Will Fed Tightening Hurt?

Seth J. Masters (pictured) and Ding Liu A lot of people worry about what will happen when the Federal Reserve lets interest rates rise. Our research suggests that’s not the big risk. 

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To Manage Rising Rates, Consider Benching Your Benchmark

Doug Peebles (pictured) and Michael Mon As we enter a period of rising rates, many bond investors are growing more aware of the risks of benchmark-oriented bond portfolios. It may be time to sit the benchmark down and consider more flexible, unconstrained approaches to fixed income.

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With Rates Going Up, Give Bonds Some Credit

After the bond market’s stumble last quarter, defending against rising rates has moved front and center for many investors. One approach that has been effective over time has been exposure to credit-oriented sectors and strategies.

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Rising Rates? Keep the TIPS, Leave the Duration

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) have been popular in recent years with investors worried about inflation, and returns have been strong. But TIPS have benefited from a long bull market for bonds and high interest-rate sensitivity. This could be a problem ahead—unless investors do something about it.

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Municipal Bonds: Equipped to Weather Rising Rates

Muni bonds suffered a rout recently when anxiety over the Fed’s taper of bond buying roiled fixed-income markets, leaving many investors wondering where to turn. As it turns out, munis have historically been effective shock absorbers. We believe that, given the right positioning, munis can help weather rising rates.

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Concerned About Rising Rates? Add Ballast by Going Global

A US-only bond investor is affected by one business cycle, one yield curve and a single monetary policy. As long as rates were falling, that seemed like a good thing. Not so these days.

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For Abenomics, the Hard Part Is Still to Come

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” program, designed to revive Japan’s economy, was a big success in its first five months, easily surpassing low expectations. But it’s drifted off course since it began, and the going is sure to get tougher from here. Still, it’s too early to write off this policy experiment.

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