Perspectives Blog

Are municipal bond rating agencies shifting the goalposts (again)?

Columbia Management Municipal Investment Team, | September 30, 2013

In 2010, public ratings agencies upgraded en masse, or “recalibrated,” tens of thousands of municipal bonds without without a formal review of each obligor’s underlying credit characteristics. Recently, Moody’s and S&P announced new revisions to their General Obligation (GO) rating methodologies. S&P’s revision is anticipated to result in an upward migration of their local GO ratings (60% unchanged, 30% upgraded, 10% downgraded), while…

Credit alternatives in government-backed debt

Columbia Management, Investment Team | June 23, 2014

One way investors may boost yields without taking on undue credit risk is through U.S. government agency debt. While many investors associate U.S. agency debt with very low yields, other types of agency debt can offer significant spreads to Treasuries with a modest decline in liquidity. We have been increasing our allocation to the agency market in core portfolios as a way to reduce credit risk while maintaining competitive yields. By Carl W….

The case for active muni management

Kimberly Campbell, Senior Portfolio Manager | April 21, 2014

…cially in today’s unpredictable investment environment. Actively managed portfolios provide investors with the opportunity to outperform their benchmarks by relying on the investment expertise of a team of portfolio managers, credit analysts and traders. The investment team provides clients vital investment expertise, critical issuer selection and risk oversight to avoid credit minefields. On the security selection level, portfolio managers analy…

The perils and pitfalls of buying individual municipal bonds

James Dearborn, Head of Municipal Bonds | February 27, 2014

…par. While these may be valid reasons to choose an individual security over a mutual fund, the environment for purchasing individual bonds has become much less friendly for retail investors. The combination of reduced supply, credit uncertainty, rating agency volatility and a pricing structure that favors large institutional investors has put the retail investor at a disadvantage. Supply — Anemic new issue supply leaves investors starved for bond…

From tactical to core – The case for emerging market debt

Columbia Management, Investment Team | June 2, 2014

…Client Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income A dominant theme over the past few years has been the search for yield, particularly when accompanied by low volatility. Given the meager return on cash, investors have been moving into credit in search of additional returns and into asset classes with perceived levels of low volatility. Corporate credit spreads have tightened steadily, in part due to this demand, resulting in a steady return profile for th…

Gimme credit

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

…ittle to suggest any acceleration in consumer spending. We need to keep in mind that the consumer’s ability to advance spending is mainly tied to gains in income and wages this cycle—which have remained very sub-par. Consumer credit has had little impact on the current recovery. Over 90% of the current cycle consumption growth is explained by growth in incomes and wages, well north of the 60% historical correlation seen in the prior 25 years. Aft…

How bad is China’s credit crisis?

Weili Jasmine Huang, Senior Portfolio Manager | February 3, 2014

We look at the scope and impact of China’s credit crisis We believe the possibility of a financial meltdown is low We discuss how resolution of the crisis may unfold News of a trust product on the brink of default has deepened the concerns of increasing instability of China’s financial system. The risk of defaults on trust and wealth management products will likely continue to impact markets. We believe that the shadow banking issue will…