The muni market seems to be returning to normal after major outflows last summer, though several potential hot-button issues could still spook investors. We don’t think these represent major risks to market returns or properly positioned portfolios. (more…)
In early 2013, we urged investors to take a hard look at the interest-rate risk in their bond portfolios. If they didn’t do it then, they have a chance to do it now. (more…)
Recent negative news about Detroit’s bankruptcy and Illinois’s pension overhaul has raised fears about the poor financial health of many cities and states. And it’s shaken individual investors’ confidence in municipal bonds. Just how worried should investors be? Not very, in our opinion, as bond defaults remain very rare. In fact, we view recent events in Detroit and Illinois as positives for the market. (more…)
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
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…)
Joseph Rosenblum (pictured) and Neene Jenkins
It could be several weeks or a few months. But before long, the city of Detroit is likely to default on some of its outstanding bonds and possibly file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. It would be a historic bankruptcy and is sure to create uncertainty in the municipal bond market. Some types of debt will fare better than others in the final restructuring. (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…)