Stop waiting on interest rates to manage DB risk and volatility!
What if a plan sponsor could take steps to help minimize costs and control volatility in their defined benefit (DB) plan regardless of the interest rate?
A recent paper published by Principal Financial Group® says it can be possible. (PDF: 694 KB)
It’s a common belief that interest rates have nowhere to go but up. And because bond investments typically go down in value when interest rates go up, plan sponsors may be avoiding investments in bonds in favor of other options. As the duration – that is, the length of the maturity of the bond – extends longer, the larger the decline in the bond investment will likely be if interest rates increase. So plan sponsors that invest in bonds have generally been sticking to shorter duration bond investments.
If a plan sponsor feels interest rates will go up, should they avoid bonds – and in particular longer duration investments? According to this article, that is not necessarily the case. Read more
Credit research is tough enough without trying to do it with one arm tied behind your back. Back in the day, credit analysts would diligently put together massive spreadsheets with all kinds of metrics that explained all aspects of a company’s financial performance and credit strength. These days, however, you have quant geeks trying to boil everything down to one number that “explains it all” so that picking relative value is somehow “easier.” The most common relative-value graph produced by the Street these days is a plot of leverage versus yields. Well, in our view, easy isn’t the best in the world of high yield credit. We’ve seen numerous “credit pickers” out there focused entirely on leverage, who have totally forgotten the rest of the important credit metrics, particularly, coverage. Read more
Yesterday, my colleague, Phelps Hoyt, gave some insight into how industry conferences play into the work of credit analysts at Principal Global Fixed Income. I want to expand a little on their role in our research process and the objectives I pursue when I’m able to attend an investor conference.
While many conferences are held at interesting or beautiful locations, last week, the desert oasis surrounding my hotel provided little more than a change of setting for my morning run. The busy schedule of each day had me going from breakfast at 7:30 a.m. until wrap-up of the evening reception at 10:00 p.m. I came to the conference with several objectives. First, meet with management teams in order to assess the outlook of their business. Second, build deeper relationships with contacts and management of these companies. Lastly, regain perspective that an ever-volatile market can suppress over time. Here’s how things went… Read more
For those involved in trading the fixed income markets, August is usually one of the more mundane months. Issuance of new corporate debt slows down significantly since many global investment professionals are on vacation, forced two-week leaves, or holidays, which results in liquidity that is much more challenging. But unlike past years, we’re entering into a September time frame that is poised to be anything but boring, thus causing a likely increase in volatility. So just like the coming attractions at your local movie theater, this is what we have to look forward to in the month of September:
Specific events and their release date:
“The Last Picture Show” (September 6) – On this Friday, the final major piece of the employment puzzle, the August non-farm payrolls, will be released to the market. This will either confirm the prevailing wisdom regarding the underlying strength of the U.S. economy and the likelihood of tapering of the Fed’s quantitative easing program, or it will provide a difficult conflicting perspective only days before the FOMC meeting. Read more
You may have noticed over the past several weeks that in addition to the great economic insights posts here on the Institutional Investor section of The Principal Blog, there have been some guest contributors. Several investment professionals from Principal Global Fixed Income have been writing posts that delve into their areas of expertise. You’ve seen posts on managing volatility and tail risk from Derek White, the head of risk management. You’ve read about bank loan strategies from Mark Cernicky, product specialist. You’ve learned about yields on Japanese government bonds from our global strategist, Seema Shah. And you’ve read about 10 concrete concepts to researching high yield from Phelps Hoyt, our head of high yield research.
I’m delighted to announce that because of the positive response we’ve received on the fixed income blog posts, we’ll be expanding our Institutional Investor section to include regular posts from the fixed income team! Read more
What’s one of the most noticeable consequences of the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing (i.e. QE3)? It’s the stark drop in fixed income volatility. Look at the chart below, which demonstrates this point for the investment grade credit market. The blue line is the rolling 21-day realized total-return volatility for a Barclays Global Investment Grade Credit Index. The red line is Thursday, September 13, 2012 – the day the Fed announced QE3. As the blue line crosses the red one, you can see marked drops in the level and range of volatility.
The Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®) is a leading global financial company offering businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services.
Our range of products and services includes retirement solutions, insurance, wellness programs, and investment and banking products through our diverse family of financial services companies and national network of financial professionals.