Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2012 - (Page 43)

Spotlight Municipal-Bond Landscape Shifts By Eric Jacobson Correlation with Treasuries is climbing back to precrisis levels, which should concern muni investors. One of the most notable effects of the 2007–09 financial crisis was the dramatic disconnect that developed between the municipal-bond and U.S. Treasury markets. Intriguingly, munis and Treasuries have recently begun to converge. That’s been good news for muni investors, but it signals some potential risks. The Landscape, Precredit Crisis be paid—they could issue bonds at lower rates than they would have otherwise. This was such a common practice that well more than 50% of new bond issues came with insurance in any given year. By 2005, nearly 70% of the market value of the Barclays Municipal Bond Index garnered AAA ratings from outside agencies. Credit Crisis Alters Landscape protection of the insurance companies. Not only did the ratings on insured munis typically fall to match the credit of their underlying issuers, but in the resulting panic, investors also marked many bonds’ prices down further, even below where the new, lower ratings implied they should be. Within a relatively short time frame, the entire face of the muni market changed. Whereas AAA bonds had dominated the space as recently as 2007, their share of the market tumbled as bonds were re-rated into lower tiers (see Exhibit 1 on next page). The AA and A rated cohorts were the largest beneficiaries of the shift, with the former taking up more than 50% of the market by March. The Aftermath Before the crisis, most investors rightly viewed the top tiers of the muni market as highly correlated with Treasuries. For many years, the majority of new muni-bond issuance had been rated AAA. With a discount owing to the tax-advantaged status of municipal interest payments, the average yield for an AAA municipal bond was typically even lower than that of a comparable Treasury bond. So, even though institutional investors didn’t typically benchmark municipal yields directly to those of the Treasury market, shifts in the latter almost always had a direct impact on the former. It’s fair to say that most individual investors even viewed AAA munis and Treasuries as substitutes for one another. Much of that AAA municipal issuance was blessed with the pristine rating thanks to third-party insurance. If municipal entities purchased insurance from highly rated companies to support their bond issues— thereby offering additional guarantees to investors that their interest and principal would Everything changed after the onset of the financial crisis. Initially, one issue was the overall deleveraging taking place among investment banks and large investors around the globe. Indiscriminate selling of anything that wasn’t a U.S. Treasury bond was the order of the day, and the muni market wasn’t immune. In particular, many hedge funds were reported to have unwound highly leveraged trades in the muni market, and their sales pummeled the prices of even the most highly rated bonds. Just as critical was the sudden lack of faith in bond insurance. Eager to increase revenues and profits, AMBAC and MBIA, the leading providers of third-party muni-bond insurance, had branched out into other sectors of the bond market, writing massive amounts of insurance on mortgage securities that weren’t guaranteed by government agencies. When it became clear that these insurance companies had overextended themselves, they were downgraded by the ratings agencies. That shock left billions of dollars in bonds without the perceived The credit-crisis deleveraging has had a long-term impact as well. Many fixed-income mutual fund managers report that liquidity has declined across the bond market from precrisis levels. One culprit seems to be investment banks’ decisions to cut risk and commit less capital to market-making activities. Many banks also argue that these moves are necessary to comply with new laws and banking rules that are expected to be enacted. Whatever the catalysts, the trend is clear: The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board reports that trades (by par amount) declined by more than 41% between 2008 and 2011. MorningstarAdvisor.com 43 http://www.MorningstarAdvisor.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2012

Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2012
Contents
Contributors
Letter From the Editor
How Much of the Behavior Gap Is Your Fault?
What’s Your View of the Muni-Bond Market?
A Balanced Life
How to Get to Know EMMA
A Strong, Robust Fund Business
Dividend Investing Abroad
Four Picks for the Present
Investment Briefs
Fund Expenses Through the Decades
Autos on Comeback Track
Lessons From the Muni-Bond Rebound
Municipal-Bond Landscape Shifts
Municipal Bonds 101
A Tale of Two Cities
Unraveling the Mysteries of Money
Small Companies Mean the World to Him
The Chinese Art Market and the Origin of Bubbles
The Myth of the Dumb Investor
Stocks That Can Stand the Heat
Our Favorite Mutual Funds
50 Most Popular ETFs
Undervalued Stocks With Wide Moats
The War on Savers

Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2012

https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2021q3
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2021q2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2021q1
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q3
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q1
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20191201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20181011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20181201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20171011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20171201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20161011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20161201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20151011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20151201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20141011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20141201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20131011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20131201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20121011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/investorconference2012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20121201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20111011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20111201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20101011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100809_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100607_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100405_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20101201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20091011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008catalog
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008winter
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com