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Finding Yield Opportunities in Renewed Volatility

June 16, 2022

Read Time 3 MIN

Redemptions and a reduction of debt issuance may lend support to municipal bonds; this week’s Fed rate hike may lead to lower prices and higher yields.

Municipal Market Positive in May

We are experiencing another pronounced sell off in municipal bonds and the market remains far from certain. The May rally in tax-exempt munis may have been over exuberant, as investors were not anticipating the Consumer Price Index (CPI) prints that came in early June. Given Wednesday’s move by the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) to hike rates 75 basis points, the largest increase it has made in a single meeting since 1994, yields are on the move to even more attractive levels. Investors may wish to take advantage. Market technicals may also be supportive with the arrival of the summer redemption season. However, there are still many uncertainties on the economic front and ongoing volatility is likely.

Reinvestment Demand Supportive

June and July represent the heaviest period of maturing bonds and coupon payments and these two months normally represent up to 60% of annual redemptions. Typically, municipal issuers come to market during this time, which offsets the demand pressure from reinvestment. Over the past several years, municipalities have been paying down debt and reducing debt issuance, which has created a net negative supply environment. We believe that as long as new issuance remains below long-term averages, municipal bonds will be attractive during June and July.

Credit Quality Remains Strong

Barclay’s reports that the high yield muni default rate remains low and is expected to remain so for the next several months. Moody’s reports that the 10-year average cumulative default rates for investment grate-rated municipals resides at 0.09% while the average 10-year cumulative default rates for high yield stands at 6.94%. Global corporate bonds, however, are a different story. The average 10-Year cumulative default rates for investment grade and high yield, respectively, are 2.17% and 28.92%, for the period documented between 1970 and 2021. Better-than-anticipated revenue collections and the passage of robust stimulus packages have led many analysts to recommend credit risk over interest rate risk so far in the first half of this year. Even through some of the most challenging economic periods, municipals have enjoyed a history of exceptional creditworthiness due to state and local governments’ broad taxing authorities and ability to collect fees for providing essential public services.

Average 10-Year Cumulative default rates 1970-2021
Rating Municipals Corporates
Aaa 0.00% 0.35%
Aa 0.02% 0.76%
A 0.10% 1.96%
Baa 1.06% 3.45%
Ba 3.40% 14.78%
B 16.70% 33.42%
Investment Grade 0.09% 2.17%
High Yield 6.94% 28.92%

Source: Moody's Investors Service . As of April 21, 2022.

Conclusion

While periods of extreme volatility seems to be the new normal, we remain cautiously bullish, as net issuance is expected to turn negative in June, and seasonal reinvestment demand comes into play. We recommend investors consider the Fed’s action at this week’s meeting, and take advantage of the likelihood of lower prices and higher yields to result.

Muni ETFs yields notable across curve and credit

    Taxable Equivalent Per Federal Tax Rate
VanEck Muni ETF Yield to Worst 12% 22% 24% 32% 35% 37%
CEF Muni Income (XMPT) 7.0% 7.9% 8.9% 9.2% 10.3% 10.7% 11.1%
High Yield Muni (HYD) 5.1% 5.8% 6.5% 6.7% 7.5% 7.8% 8.1%
Short High Yield Muni (SHYD) 3.5% 3.9% 4.4% 4.6% 5.1% 5.3% 5.5%
Long Muni (MLN) 4.4% 5.0% 5.7% 5.8% 6.5% 6.8% 7.0%
Intermediate Muni (ITM) 3.4% 3.8% 4.3% 4.4% 5.0% 5.2% 5.3%
Short Muni (SMB) 2.5% 2.8% 3.2% 3.3% 3.6% 3.8% 3.9%
Sustainable Muni (SMI) 3.2% 3.7% 4.1% 4.3% 4.8% 5.0% 5.1%

Source: VanEck. As of June 14, 2022. Click for standardize performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Click for most recent 30-day SEC yields.

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Disclosures

This is not an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation to buy or sell any of the securities/financial instruments mentioned herein. The information herein represents the opinion of the author(s), but not necessarily, those of VanEck and these opinions may change at any time and from time to time. Non-VanEck proprietary information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Historical performance is not indicative of future results. Current data may differ from data quoted. Any graphs shown herein are for illustrative purposes only.

An investment in the Funds may be subject to risks which include, fund of funds risk, high portfolio turnover, model and data risks, management, operational, authorized participant concentration and absence of prior active market risks, trading issues, market, fund shares trading, premium/discount and liquidity of fund shares and non-diversified risks. The funds may be subject to following risks as a result of investing in Exchange Traded Products including municipal securities, credit, high yield securities, tax, interest rate, call, state concentration and sector concentration risks. Municipal bonds may be less liquid than taxable bonds. There is no guarantee that a Funds’ income will be exempt from federal, state or local income taxes, and changes in those tax rates or in alternative minimum tax (AMT) rates or in the tax treatment of municipal bonds may make them less attractive as investments and cause them to lose value. Capital gains, if any, are subject to capital gains tax. A portion of the dividends you receive may be subject to AMT. For a more complete description of these and other risks, please refer to each Fund’s prospectus.

Before investing, carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. Bonds and bond funds will decrease in value as interest rates rise. An investor should consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the investment company carefully before investing. This and other information is in the prospectus. To obtain a copy of the mutual fund prospectuses and ETF prospectuses, which contain this and other information, please call 800.826.2333 or visit vaneck.com. Please read the prospectus and summary prospectus carefully before investing.

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