Bonds: Total Market

For investors, Tax Day often brings financial woes as they grapple with income from their portfolios. Over two decades, U.S. equity mutual funds have consistently yielded 7% of Net Asset Value in capital gains, irrespective of market performance. 

 

Direct Indexing emerges as a viable option, empowering investors to offset losses against gains within their portfolios or other income streams. Traditional portfolio management typically disregards tax implications, leading to hefty tax bills for investors, notably during market downturns like 2008.

 

Direct indexing offers a remedy, enabling investors to tailor their portfolios and strategically sell underperforming assets to counterbalance gains elsewhere. This method reduces turnover since the aim is to mirror an index with minimal trading. Even in bullish markets, avenues for loss mitigation exist, rendering direct indexing an attractive tax management strategy. By mirroring selected indexes, investors can curtail capital gains and potentially offset other income with net tax losses. 


Finsum: Alpha and tax efficiency should be thought of in a similar lens and shouldn’t be discounted by advisors. 

Active fixed income demand is surging. The secular drivers are increased comfort and adoption by advisors and investors with the category, in addition to the conversion of actively managed fixed income mutual funds into ETFs. From a cyclical perspective, the current environment, which has attractive yields but considerable uncertainty about the Fed and economy, also favors active fixed income strategies.

Despite its growth, active fixed income makes up less than 4% of allocations, revealing that there is more upside. As long as the Fed remains in a wait-and-see mode, active fixed income is likely to remain in favor. And this period of uncertainty has certainly been extended following the recent string of robust inflation and labor data. 

This type of rate environment requires a more flexible and agile approach, which is better suited for active fixed income. According to Bryon Lake, JPMorgan Asset Management Global Head of ETF Solutions, “To me, it’s all about active fixed income. With what is happening in the rate space, investors are all rethinking their fixed income allocations as we speak. We want to talk about active fixed income … where investors can dial in the exposures that they’re looking to get in the ETF wrapper.”


Finsum: Current uncertainty about the timing and number of Fed rate cuts in 2024 has been a major contributor to the growth of active fixed income. And this uncertainty has increased following recent economic data. 

Stocks and bonds have been weaker since Wednesday’s stronger than expected inflation report. While some on Wall Street are now questioning whether the Fed will be able to cut rates at all, Rick Rieder, Blackrock’s head of fixed income, continues to see rate cuts later in the year.

He notes that Thursday’s PPI report was softer than expected and an indication that most inflation is contained in the services sector. He doesn’t believe that monetary policy could have too much impact on this type of inflation and that it would have damaging effects on other parts of the economy. Overall, he sees recent data consistent with core PCE at 2.6-2.7%.

He believes the current data justifies between one and two rate cuts before year-end. However, he believes that the data could still evolve in a way that justifies more. With rates above 5% and core PCE below 3%, monetary policy is very restrictive, so he believes the Fed will lower rates regardless.

In terms of fixed income, Rieder is bullish on short-duration notes, as investors can get yields between 6% and 7%. He sees the 10-year Treasury yield modestly declining into year-end due to softer economic data and the Fed cutting rates. However, longer-term, he believes that it is range-bound between 4% and 5%.


Finsum: Many on Wall Street are starting to turn more pessimistic about the Fed’s ability to cut rates given recent inflation data. Blackrock’s Rick Rieder still sees cuts later in the year, even if the data doesn’t significantly improve.

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