Perspectives Blog

Gimme credit

Marie M. Schofield, CFA, Chief Economist and Senior Portfolio Manager | August 22, 2013

Economic data seem largely unchanged from past trends, despite uptick in retail sales. Consumers continued to pare their debt last quarter continuing a nearly five-year trend. Given consumer deleveraging, consumption remains tethered to income gains – and those gains remain sub-par. Last week’s economic data give a very mixed picture of the health of the consumer. While the market seemed to cheer the uptick in spending seen in retail sales rep…

Trouble in paradise: Q&A about Puerto Rico bonds

Chad Farrington, CFA, Head of Municipal Bond Research | January 2, 2014

Why has Puerto Rico become such an issue now? Should investors be concerned with a downgrade or default? Is Puerto Rico a systemic risk for the municipal market? Historically, Puerto Rico (PR) bonds’ high yield and triple tax exemption (federal, state and local) had been a big lure for many institutional investors, such as mutual funds. PR debt exposure in municipal bond funds, namely single-state municipal bond funds, proved advantageous for sh…

Hanging in

Marie M. Schofield, CFA, Chief Economist and Senior Portfolio Manager | September 20, 2013

Recent retail sales data are well below expectations and probably an indication that consumers have become more cautious about spending. Financial conditions matter greatly, and the recent tightening is likely having some impact on housing activity and consumer attitudes. Spending follows wages and it will be difficult for retail spending to gain much traction with the tie to shallow compensation trends. The best one can say about consumer spe…

Retail sector outlook – It’s a share game

Mari Shor, Senior Equity Analyst | March 17, 2014

…ock picking. Faced with structural and cyclical headwinds, apparel retailers will need global brand strength, enhanced technological capabilities and supply chain expertise to gain market share. Recent data points across the consumer space have been mixed, and retailers and investors are struggling to sort through the noise to determine underlying demand. To recap 2013, apparel retailers underperformed other sectors within consumer discretionary…

A primer on preferred securities

Carl Pappo, Head of Core Fixed Income | March 10, 2014

…including the structures, the motivation of issuers and investors and why we think preferred securities make sense in the current market environment. What is a preferred security? Preferred securities carry attributes of both debt and equity securities. Preferred securities rank higher in the capital structure relative to common equity, as they have a priority claim on dividend payments and a higher claim on assets in a bankruptcy. Preferred secu…

Puerto Rico’s double-downgrade

Michael Taylor, Senior Municipal Analyst | February 10, 2014

What’s behind the downgrade of Puerto Rico’s credit ratings by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s? The double-downgrade puts pressure on Puerto Rico to shore up its finances in the coming weeks A future default or debt restructuring could rattle investor confidence and impact all municipal market issuers On February 4, Standard & Poor’s lowered its long-term credit rating on the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s (PR) general obligat…

Detroit’s collateral damage

Ty Schoback, Senior Municipal Analyst | October 24, 2013

The State of Michigan’s failure to preserve the integrity of the General Obligation (GO) pledge in Detroit has greatly undermined the market’s confidence in debt issued within Michigan. It has also resulted in increased borrowing costs for other Michigan entities. The State communicated to investors the UTGO security pledge of local governments should not be considered any stronger than a basic appropriation or lease, raising significant concer…