Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke reiterated today that a healthier economy would prompt the Fed to end its unprecedented bond-buying program, which has kept yields artificially low. Speculation on this question over the last several weeks has caused a sharp bond sell-off and rising yields. But we don’t see this as the start of a rout for most municipal bonds. (more…)
A 30-year bull market for bonds has come to an end, but this does not make a bear market inevitable, in our view.
Stockton, California, made headlines last June when it filed for a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Now, a federal judge has not only given his okay to proceed; he’s also thrown retiree pension benefits into the debate. The big question is whether these benefits can be cut. The outcome could be a groundbreaking decision that would encourage other municipalities to adopt this approach—particularly those with pension problems.
To stay solvent, hospitals run a numbers game, charging high prices to patients with private insurance to offset lower payments from Medicare and Medicaid and the uninsured. Some hospitals make a nice profit; others struggle. Now hospitals face a game changer—the Affordable Care Act, which expands Americans’ access to medical insurance but changes the reimbursement rules. (more…)
In the end, the American Taxpayer Relief Act did not eliminate the tax exemption for municipal bonds or modify it any way. In fact, the increase in the top marginal tax rate makes muni bonds more attractive versus taxable bonds. And the Medicare surtax on investment income, enacted in 2010 but effective in 2013, makes muni bonds more attractive still. (more…)
Municipal bonds are popular because the interest they pay is exempt from federal taxation. But in its search for solutions to the fiscal cliff, the US federal government is looking under every rock for more revenue sources. This could put muni bonds’ tax-exempt status at risk. (more…)
When investors see opportunity, we believe they should actively reposition their municipal bond portfolios to take advantage. Often, this requires selling some existing holdings. Today, investors are asking us: Why do you recommend I sell my long-term bonds? They’re yielding 5%. Won’t selling them reduce my potential returns? (more…)
Last month, we wrote that changes to the tax code being discussed in Washington would affect the value of municipal bonds. While that analysis still holds true, that was before the election campaign engines really revved up. Now there’s more chatter, if not more clarity. My colleague Michael Brooks weighs in. (more…)
Most fixed-income investments carry two key risks: interest-rate risk and credit risk. Both affect a bond’s value in the market. But before the 2008 financial crisis, interest-rate risk was the primary concern of many investors and investment managers—credit risk was much less of a consideration. My colleague Michael Brooks explains why. (more…)