(New York)

Environmental, social, and governance investing is reaching a new market just about every month these days, but ESG blew past a huge one this week. Socially conscious investing capped a quarter of all new debt sales. Between corporations and countries, the ESG movement pushed out $391 billion in new debt this year. Companies like Enel SpA are leading the way in Italy, being pushed by the strong arm of European governments. The goal is to have Europe be a leader in climate change. However, investors are paying a premium to get ahold of the bonds. What many are calling ‘grenium’ is the excess being commanded by these socially conscious investments as practically everyone in the bond market is tracking ESG ratings.


FINSUM: Europe is a leader in the ESG movement, but its bond market might be a bit saturated. Look to the American or even emerging markets to get a piece of socially conscious bond investing.

 

(New York)

The bond market seems to have lost all touch with reality. Yields are extremely low, and given the more relaxed inflation reading this month, seem likely to stay pinned. Now consider this: European corporate debt real yields just turned negative. Yes, you are paying for the privilege of holding corporate debt. The ICE BofA index of European high-yield bonds is now at 2.34%, well below inflation.


FINSUM: Is there were ever a sign of a peak, this is it. Bond yields have nowhere to go but up, as there is no defensible logic that they could sustainably move lower. Unfortunately, it seems as though bonds and equity could move hand in hand, as the catalyst for big losses would be the Fed, which would trigger both asset classes.

(New York)

When you say bond legend, only one name likely comes to mind (let’s leave Gundlach out of this for a minute): Bill Gross. And old Bill always has an opinion, and this week it is a very strong one: “bonds are trash”. Bill says that bonds are now in the investment garbage can because Fed tapering in the first half of 2022 will likely cause a rise in Treasury yields from 1.3% now to 2% next year, causing an overall loss of around 3% over the next 12 months. According to Gross, “Cash has been trash for a long time but there are now new contenders for the investment garbage can. Intermediate to long-term bond funds are in that trash receptacle for sure”.


FINSUM: This is logically sound, but the timing is entirely dependent on the Fed.

(New York)

Morningstar has added a lot of coverage to their model portfolio universe this year. Earlier in 2021 they expanded their coverage of ratings to 1500 model portfolios, an increase of 50%. Of all those funds reported on, only two of them took home their coveted gold rating: the Vanguard CORE series and the BlackRock Target Allocation ETF. Vanguard was noted as having highly diversified index funds and rarely making portfolio changes. Other funds that got acclaim, such as their silver rating, include American Funds Growth & Income and the American Funds Tax Aware Growth & Income series.


FINSUM: The world of model portfolios has grown nearly as dizzying as that of ETFs so these Morningstar guides are a big help.

(New York)

The bond market has had a good year. For the last several months, yields have been falling and corporate bonds have seen big gains this year thanks to better earnings and ratings upgrades. Munis have been a big success too. But one area has been even hotter: ESG bonds, which have will see over $1 tn of issuance this year. To put that in perspective, it would be more than double what was issued in 2020. JP Morgan explained the big surge in ESG best, with their head of ESG debt capital markets saying “What began with ‘why should I issue?’ is now ‘why aren’t you? … your absence in the market says something now”.


FINSUM: ESG is fully mainstream now and seems to be gathering more and more assets/issuance. What will this do to issuance in clear non-ESG sectors?

(New York)

The bond market is in an odd place right now. For the first part of the year, yields jumped on the threat of inflation. Then in the middle of Spring, those fears started to wane and yields started to fall. Other than a quick reversal of direction off a hot June inflation reading, that has been the trend all summer. However, the whole market looks very vulnerable to a change in sentiment. If inflation comes in warm again for July—especially coupled with some very good jobs numbers—the overall economic picture might move back to bullish, which could swing yields rapidly back in the direction they were headed in Q1.


FINSUM: Essentially this market could quickly realized it mispriced the direction of the economy, so there is a lot of risk for advisors and their clients. Nasdaq and Fidelity are having an interesting webinar on how to plan for this risk. Check it out here.

(New York)

Munis have had a great year. Ever since Biden’s election, munis have surged in value because of two core assumptions. The first, and by far the biggest, is that taxes were likely to rise with Democrats in power. The second is that the Democrats would be more financially supportive of states and local governments. In the immortal words of Lee Corso, we’re here to say “not so fast!”. The assumption that taxes are going to rise looks weaker and weaker, and the same goes for the financial support for states.


FINSUM: The Democrats were not able to force through tax rises alongside this major infrastructure package, and their chances of getting any tax hikes through before the midterm elections looks poor.

(New York)

You may not be paying much attention to it, but the last month has been very good for investment grade bonds. The reason why is that ratings agencies are in the midst of a massive wave of upgrades to companies that got downgraded at the start of COVID. This has sent demand for debt soaring as companies re-enter the investment grade market. For example, just in the week ending July 16th alone, the iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) pulled in $1.1bn in inflows. According to a credit strategist at Citi, “It’s like something that I have not seen in my time [in the industry] … After the financial crisis we didn’t get major companies moving back to investment grade so quickly”.


FINSUM: This is the early innings of yet another corporate bond bull run. Only credit specialists have mostly paid attention to this point, but investment grade bonds seem a good choice given the credit rating tailwind.

(New York)

The summer bond market has a pretty predictable summer pattern. Normally…see the full story on our partner Magnifi’s site.

(New York)

The market took a nosedive in the middle of the day today as investors were walloped with a hot CPI inflation reading. The CPI rose an eye-popping 5.4% in June, with core inflation coming in at 4.5%. The market was anticipating a flat 5.0% CPI number. Indexes turned downward immediately following the report. It should be noted than June 2020 was the nadir of the pandemic inflation readings, so that makes this report look even bigger.


FINSUM: The inflation boogeyman returns. Beware a big sell-off across the board in bonds, especially if the Fed or a member of the Fed makes any tightening comments.

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