The Era of Cash

4 Mins read

In today’s financial landscape, cash is reigning supreme. With money-market funds and Treasury bills boasting yields of approximately 5% and minimal credit or interest-rate risks, it’s a safe haven for investors. Interestingly, longer-term Treasuries actually yield less than their short-term counterparts, a phenomenon referred to as an inverted yield curve. This lack of immediate upside discourages venturing into later maturities. Moreover, an inverted yield curve tends to foreshadow an impending recession, deterring potential investors from corporate bonds.

However, despite cash appearing to be the perfect choice currently, it’s not without its long-term drawbacks. Michael Arone, an investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors, highlights the specter of reinvestment risk. He warns that as rates eventually decrease, investors who have predominantly parked their funds in cash will be forced to reinvest at lower rates. To navigate this risk, Arone suggests adopting a barbell approach. On one end, investors should be overweight in cash while on the other end, they should focus on high-quality, longer-duration securities. By doing so, they can take advantage of significant yield from investment-grade assets and offset some of the potential reinvestment risk.

In conclusion, while cash seems like an appealing option in the current economic climate, it’s crucial to consider the risks it poses in the long run. Adopting a well-balanced strategy that combines cash with high-quality securities may help mitigate potential pitfalls and improve overall investment outcomes.

The Potential Upside of Bond Market Rallies

One key advantage of owning a few intermediate securities is the potential for bond market rallies when the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hikes eventually lead to a slower U.S. economy. As the economy slows down, yields will fall, allowing these securities to appreciate in price. By staying in cash, you may miss out on these opportunities, warns Dhruv Nagrath, director of fixed-income strategy at BlackRock.

Bond Prices and Current Challenges

While the idea of participating in bond market rallies may not be compelling at the moment, it’s important to consider the current challenges. In July, bond prices experienced a decline due to sharply rising yields. The 10-year Treasury note reached a level above 4% for the first time since March. Furthermore, inflation remains elevated, and another rate hike by the Federal Reserve is expected this month. Consequently, the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond exchange-traded fund (ticker: AGG) has seen a decline of approximately 3% in the past three months.

Long-Term Investment Strategy

Despite these short-term fluctuations, long-term investors, especially those in retirement seeking consistent income, should proactively plan for an eventual peak in yields and consider adding longer-duration securities to their portfolios. This strategic move can position investors to reap the benefits of future bond market rallies.

Remember, timing the market can be challenging and unpredictable. It’s essential to consult with a financial advisor and assess your individual circumstances before making any investment decisions.

By staying informed and proactive, investors can make informed choices that align with their long-term financial goals.

Investment Opportunities in High-Quality Securities

In today’s uncertain economic climate, finding investments that offer both stability and decent returns can be a challenge. However, by looking beyond traditional options, investors can uncover hidden gems in the fixed-income markets.

Preferred Shares: A Lucrative Asset

One such opportunity lies in preferred shares, which are often issued by large, highly rated banks. These securities provide a yield of around 6%, making them an attractive investment for risk-averse individuals. Additionally, preferred shares have become relatively inexpensive due to the regional-bank crisis in March, presenting an excellent buying opportunity.

According to Arone, these preferreds offer an interesting proposition for investors seeking high-quality assets with yields exceeding 6%. Among the options available is the SPDR ICE Preferred Securities ETF (PSK) offered by State Street, which currently yields 5.72%.

Short-Term Preferreds: A Favorable Choice

Cliff Corso, Chief Investment Officer at Advisors Asset Management, suggests considering shorter-term preferreds issued by prominent banks and energy companies. His firm’s AAM Low Duration Preferred & Income Securities ETF (PFLD) offers a yield of close to 7%, making it an enticing option for investors.

Long-Term Treasuries: An Essential Safeguard

In light of the looming threat of an economic recession, adding long-term Treasuries to your investment portfolio is considered a prudent move. Amit Nagrath recommends including these high-quality securities to mitigate potential risks. One recommended approach is to invest in an ETF that tracks a bond benchmark, such as iShares’ Core Bond offering. This particular ETF has an intermediate duration and yields 4.12%, providing stability and moderate returns in uncertain times.

By exploring these alternative investment opportunities, investors can tap into relatively unknown markets and diversify their portfolio while still maintaining a focus on high-quality assets. With careful consideration and the right approach, these investments can offer stable and lucrative returns for those willing to venture beyond the conventional options.

Reimagined Fixed-Income Investment Strategies

BlackRock’s fixed-income playbook has recently included a diverse range of investment options. These options include inflation-protected Treasuries, agency MBS, and local-currency emerging market debt. While these investments provide attractive opportunities, there are some areas that warrant caution.

One such area is preferred stocks, which Nagrath, a professional at BlackRock, is not particularly fond of due to their exposure to the financial sector. For instance, the iShares Preferred & Income Securities ETF (PFF) offers a high yield of 6.62%. However, it is worth noting that a significant portion of its assets, approximately 70%, are invested in bank preferred stocks. Despite this concern, it may still be worthwhile to consider a conservative allocation to this sector.

Considering the current market conditions and the potential for inflation, BlackRock recognizes the importance of incorporating inflation-protected Treasuries into its fixed-income portfolio. These investment instruments act as a hedge against rising inflation rates, providing a level of security and stability for investors.

Additionally, agency MBS (Mortgage-Backed Securities) have emerged as another attractive option in BlackRock’s fixed-income strategy. These securities offer the potential for steady cash flows while minimizing exposure to credit risk, making them a valuable addition to any investment portfolio.

Furthermore, BlackRock has been actively considering local-currency emerging market debt as part of its fixed-income playbook. By investing in these debt securities denominated in local currencies, investors can take advantage of potentially higher yields while diversifying their exposure to international markets.

In conclusion, BlackRock’s fixed-income strategy encompasses various investment options with a focus on preserving capital and generating income. While certain areas such as preferred stocks warrant caution, the inclusion of inflation-protected Treasuries, agency MBS, and local-currency emerging market debt can provide valuable opportunities for investors.

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