Economic and Market Commentary

Macro & Markets in Minutes - December edition

Join for “Macro & Markets in Minutes”, where we help contextualize the fixed income market and share insights from PIMCO’s Cyclical outlook, all in under 10 minutes. This quarter: interest rates and duration; cash management, and the municipal bond market,

For a deeper dive into PIMCO’s Cyclical Outlook and more, visit the Post Peak page.

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Text on screen: PIMCO

Text on screen: TITLE – PIMCO EDUCATION, MACRO & MARKETS IN MINUTES, Q4 2024

Van Dyk: Hi. And welcome to our Q4 edition of Macro and Markets.

Text on screen: Chad Van Dyk, Account Manager, Field Sales, US Wealth Management

Today, we'll discuss a few key themes we're hearing from clients, coupled with insights from PIMCO's Cyclical Forum. Our goal is to educate US advisors and investors in a volatile environment, while also setting the stage for our next CE credit session.

I'm joined by my colleagues, Mary, private wealth director located in the northeast, John, account manager located in the southeast and then Antonese, not too far from where we sit today here in the southwest in California. Thanks so much for joining me today.

FULL PAGE LIST GRAPHIC: TITLE – Learning objectives:, LIST - Interest rates and duration, Cash management and money markets, Municipal bond market

Together, we'll discuss timely topics to the markets such as duration, cash allocations and Munis. So, let's get started.

Mary, we were chatting before this about the

CHEVRON SPLIT SCREEN – Text on right: Money market accounts can range up to 6x higher than the average rate of 0.63%. Sources FDIC.gov as of 11/20/23. PIMCO.com - B-ROLL: Customers in a bank

growth in money market funds, why do we think this is happening? I'd love to hear a couple thoughts on this.

Text on screen: Mary Hoppe, Account Manager, Field Sales, US Wealth Management

Hoppe: Well, it is pretty astounding to see how much money has flocked into the money market funds, but you really think about, it’s pretty simple.

2022 was a rough year for both the stock market and the bond market. So, investors are seeking comfort and that comfort comes with a really nice yield today.  So,

Text on screen: TITLE – Substantial Growth in Money Market Funds AUM 

Images on screen: a dark blue bar indicating the rise, decline, and further rise of the total value of money market Assets Under Management (AUM, measured ) in trillions of dollars (T) over a period spanning from 2007 to 2023. AUM value begins at a small peak of nearly $4 T USD in 2008, before sharply declining to nearly $2.5 T shortly after, where it would remain from 2008 to 2017. In 2017, AUM would begin exhibiting significant increases, rising rapidly from a $2.5 T baseline to a $5.5 T peak in 2023, where it currently remains.

Text overlaid on the chart indicates two recent periods within the rising period where AUM rose more rapidly than others, with one being March 16, 2022, the date of the first rate hike, the other being March 8, 2023, after the Silicon Valley bank crisis emerged. The first event resulted in a $1.1 T increase in AUM, while the second event resulted in a $742 Billion increase.

The chart indicates a powerful positive correlation between rising rates, rising yields, and rising capital flows into money market funds.

Beneath the chart, there is additional text citing the data sources as Bloomberg, Crane Data, Morningstar, and advising to refer to an appendix for more outlook and risk information.

when you're looking at yields of 5.5% coming off of a money market fund, it's pretty compelling. The challenge though that I see with that is money market yields are fleeting and yields are attractive across the entire bond market.  So how does one think about that from a long-term perspective?

Robertson: I think one of the big questions that I have my clients asking is, how much do you want to save and how much do you want to invest?

Text on screen: Antonese Robertson, Account Manager, Business Development, US Wealth Management

That saving is really great for money markets, but when it comes to investing, that's where we need to start looking out and the biggest question that I get then is when should I add duration and how much should I be adding.

Van Dyk: I think the question needs to be asked, what is this money for?

Text on screen: TITLE - Present fed hiking cycle

Images on screen: a line chart titled "Present Fed Hiking Cycle 2022-" showcases three lines rising over the period ranging from December 2021 to September 2023. The blue line represents the 2-year U.S. Treasury Yield, the green line shows the Fed Funds Rate (Upper Bound), and the purple line depicts the Crane Money Fund Average 30-Day Yield. Each line has progressed incrementally upward, nearly in complete lockstep, indicating an 18-month hiking cycle, with the Treasury yield and Fed Funds rate surpassing their previous highs. The three values rose from 0 – 1 % at the beginning of the period, in December 2021, to 5 – 6% at the end of the period, in September 2023. Gray text overlays the chart, reading “2 year Treasury yield and Fed Funds rate have rapidly surpassed their highs from the prior hiking cycle.”

The juxtaposition of the charts indicates a powerful positive correlation between rising rates, rising yields, and rising capital flows into money market funds.

Beneath the chart, there is additional text citing the data sources as Bloomberg, Crane Data, Morningstar, and advising to refer to an appendix for more outlook and risk information.

if we're to point out chart showing the 2- year treasury, it's that the bond market tends to be ahead of what the Fed is doing and that's why you can get a little more in 3 month T-bills and 6 month T-bills than you can in the 2-year treasury today to the tune of half a percent.

There's quite a bit of reinvestment risk that you have on the very front end. So, think about giving up a half a percent compared to the front-end T-bills by going into something like the 2-year treasury. Yes, you're giving that up, but you're locking in that rate for a longer period of time.

Hoppe: Yeah, you say bonds matter and where they really matter most is when the equity markets are misbehaving, right? And for the first time in many years, 15 years bonds, that diversification benefit has been restored.

Text on screen: TITLE - Against the backdrop of a highly uncertain outlook and fatter-than-usual tails thoughtful portfolio construction is key

Images on screen: The graphic consists of a central image framed by four tables.

The central image is a circular diagram titled “Business cycle,” and segmented into four colored phases. The diagram indicates the cyclical nature of economic conditions. Clockwise from the top, the phases are labeled "Slowdown" (blue), "Recession" (orange), "Recovery" (gray), and "Expansion" (gold). Visual cues reveal that phase of the cycle naturally progresses to the next, with the fourth phase ultimately returning back to the first phase, expressing a continuous flow through the economic stages.

Surrounding this central diagram are four rectangular tables, each corresponding to a different business cycle phase. Each table indicates the historical economic and market performance of a given business cycle phase, measured across two economic metrics and four market metrics. Economic metrics measured are the performance of GDP growth and the rate of inflation. Market metrics measured are the performance of equities, nominal bonds, inflation linked bonds (ILBs), and commodities. Economic metrics are measured as either rising, neutral, or declining. Market metrics are measured as either “significant underperformance,” “modest underperformance,” “modest outperformance,” or “significant outperformance.”

- The top-left table, corresponding to the ”Slowdown” phase, indicates neutral GDP growth and an elevated inflation rate during this phase. It further indicates that equities and nominal bonds are cyclically expected to modestly underperform, while ILBs significantly outperform and commodities modestly outperform.

- The bottom-left table, corresponding to the “Recession” phase, indicates declines in both GDP growth and inflation rate. It also indicates significant underperformance in the equities and commodities categories. Nominal bonds significantly outperform while ILBs modestly outperform.

- The bottom-right table, corresponding to the “Recovery” phase, indicates rising GDP growth and a neutral inflation rate. In this phase, equities significantly outperform and nominal bonds modestly outperform, while ILBs significantly underperform and commodities modestly underperform.

- The top-right table, corresponding to the “Expansion” phase, indicates rising GDP growth and inflation rates. During this phase, equities modestly outperform and commodities significantly outperform, while nominal bonds significantly underperform and ILBs modestly underperform.

The full graphic, incorporating each element, expresses the relationship of business cycle phases to various major asset classes. Consequently, portfolio construction appropriate to and mindful of business cycle phases is essential.

The source of the information is attributed to PIMCO, and the graphic is for illustrative purposes only. At the bottom, a note advises to refer to an Appendix for additional investment strategy, outlook, and risk information.

So should we enter a recession, even a mild one and bond yields come down, that equals price appreciation. If we have a mild recession where equity valuations are today, you're likely to see equities down.

So, you want to have something to counterbalance that equity volatility and that's really were looking outside of money market funds can be so helpful.

The bigger question that I get though is, I get it. I need to start layering in duration, but where in the bond market should I be focused on?

Van Dyk: We're not in love with the volatility that we anticipate in the treasury market

CHEVRON SPLIT SCREEN – Text on right: As of October, U.S. Treasury issuance was +31.9% YoY. - Source: simfa.org, Nov 2023., B-roll: U.S. Treasury

but we're going to keep in issuing treasuries to pay for stuff.

At a certain point, you have to envision where does the demand come from? We're going to keep issuing debt to pay for stuff, all the money is in these money market funds that owns T-bills already. What's going to absorb this?

Just look at the 30-year national mortgage rate versus the 30-year treasury, that wedge is pretty significant. If we look at the agency mortgage market in particular, 70% of those mortgages are 3% mortgages or below.

 So, if you are one of these people, you're not going to refinance, you don't even want to move. You are probably stuck in the place that you have, because you don't like the trade-off of going to something like a 7 or 8% mortgage.

So, if we think about the supply demand dynamics behind the asset class as well, we'll probably continue to issue a lot of treasuries to pay for stuff and on the mortgage side, we're probably going to see very limited new supply and you're getting a really handsome spread above treasuries with bonds that typically trade today. If you average all of them around 85 cents on the dollar.

Hoppe: And still pretty liquid, right? The second largest asset class behind treasuries.

Van Dyk: Yeah, but corporate bonds don't actually look horrible.

Kronour:  Yeah. I mean, you look at companies like JP Morgan that are printing cash, they have better fundamentals than the US government.

Text on screen: John Kronour, Account Manager, Field Sales, US Wealth Management

So, you're seeing very attractive areas in corporate bonds and so looking at high quality corporates in the short-term space may be a viable solution for people who are looking for alternatives to money markets or traditional treasuries.

I mean, bottom of the line, there are some of the cheapest bonds that we've seen in fixed income with mortgages and even Munis. That's an area that's looking attractive as well.

CHEVRON SPLIT SCREEN – Text on right: California is the largest state in the municipal bond market. - Source: Bloomberg as of 12/2021., B-roll : Aerial of California

Van Dyk: Well, we can't talk about Munis without talking about California. Antonese, you're based here. What are you hearing from the California based advisors and end clients?

Robertson: Well, I think it's no surprise that a lot of clients, especially in California are looking for tax free income and right now you're actually getting paid to be in that space. A lot of people weren't looking into the Muni space beforehand, because yields just weren't there. Now, we're seeing

Text on screen: TITLE - Recent volatile market environments

Images on screen: The main feature is a horizontal bar graph that measures the performance of two types of bonds, ‘A Corporates’ and ‘Agency MBS,’ indicated by the metric of excess return vs. like-duration US Treasuries. Performance is measured across six periods of high market volatility, each period labeled with a given market shock.

- Period 1 is labeled "Bear Stearns," spanning from January 2008 to March 2008. A Corporates report a loss of 4.2% while Agency MBS reports a loss of 2.6%.

- Period 2 is "Lehman Fall,” spanning from May 2008 to November 2008. Here, A Corporates report a substantial loss of nearly 20%, whereas Agency MBS report a far more modest loss of 4.1%.

- Period 3 is "EU Debt/Flash Crash,” from April 2010 to June 2010. A Corporates declined 3.3%, while Agency MBS surprisingly report a very small gain of 0.1%.

- Period 4 is titled "China Devaluation/Oil,” lasting from July 2015 to February 2016. A Corporates declined 4.6% while Agency MBS declined only 0.4%.

- Period 5 is labeled "Trade War/Tightening,” lasting from October 2018 to December 2018. A Corporates declined 3.0%, while Agency MBS declined 0.7%.

- Period 6, "COVID-19,” spans from February 2020 to April 2020. A Corporates fell by 12.9%, while Agency MBS declined marginally by only 0.6%.

The bar graph illustrates that during periods of economic distress or shock, Agency MBS bonds have tended to display greater resilience than A Corporate bonds. This data shows that Agency MBS can serve an effective defensive and protective role for portfolios, improving resiliency against unforeseen market shocks.

investment grade Munis at the highest yield to worst numbers that we've seen since the great financial crisis in ‘08.

So, it's a really attractive space to be in, and then when you look at the underlying fundamentals, there are a lot of states that are holding up because of the fiscal aid that we got in 2020. California being a great example, right now, California's rainy-day fund is 42 billion dollars, that's 20% of the general fund. So, if we were to get into a recession or a window of weakness, states like California are better suited today than they were in previous recessions.

Hoppe: In places like Massachusetts taxes despite being fiscally in great shape, taxes keep going up. Massachusetts just did the mass millionaires tax, which tax on another 1% on anyone earning over a million dollars in income and so the demand for Munis is of course very very strong and because of that demand, a lot of the internal Massachusetts issuance gets gobbled up right away, but what I see even more though is Massachusetts residents now moving and leaving.

CHEVRON SPLIT SCREEN – Text on right: In 2022, Florida was the fastest growing state in the U.S. - Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2023., B-roll: Aerial of Florida  

Kronour: Welcome them.

Hoppe: But it changes your whole dynamic, right? Your state used to be all retirees.

Kronour: Yeah. It has the investors changed, so now there's more demand for Munis,

Text on screen: TITLE – Tax equivalent yields have increased significantly

Images on screen: A vertical bar chart, titled "Tax Equivalent yields have increased significantly," shows a significant increase in municipal bond yields across various maturities. The chart measures tax equivalent yields reported on two particular dates, comparing yields reported on December 31st,  2021 with yields reported on September 30th, 2023.

A blue bar indicates yield levels at the time of the earlier date, in December 2021, while a green bar indicates yield levels at the time of the later date, in September 2023. Yield levels reported on each of the two dates are measured across four separate categories of maturity. Categories are labeled as '2yr AA Muni', '5yr AA Muni', '10yr AA Muni', and '30yr AA Muni'.

For ‘2 year AA Muni', the 2021 bar reports a 0.44% yield while the 2023 bar reports a 6.23% yield. An increase of "579 basis points (bps) " is indicated. Next, ‘5 year AA Muni’ reports a 2021 yield of 1.08% and a 2023 yield of 5.86%, indicating an increase of 478 bps. Then, ‘10 year AA Muni’ reports a 2021 yield of 1.94% and a 2023 yield of 6.03% yield, indicating an increase of 409 bps. Finally, the “30 year AA Muni” yield reported 2.87% in 2021 and 7.85% in 2023, indicating an increase of 498 bps.

Basis point increases were highest in the 2 year AA Muni category, followed by the 30 year AA Muni Category, then the 5-year AA Muni category, and finally in the 10 year AA Muni Category.

A note at the bottom of the image states the source of the data as Bloomberg, PIMCO, Refinitiv TM3, and mentions the yields are for illustrative purposes only, with a reminder that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. It also notes that the taxable equivalent yield assumes a maximum tax rate of 40.8% and advises referring to an appendix for additional forecast, outlook, and risk information.

because there's different types of investors other than retirees, which has traditionally been, the majority of Florida and so it's interesting that Munis are at a 25-year levels.

but we're seeing outflows in the Muni space of over 12 billion year-to-date, but California very attractive, Chicago all over the country, Munis are very in demand and yields are at this very attractive level. So certainly, I think a very interesting time for Munis and Florida has certainly taken advantage of that, even though we're a tax-free state,

Van Dyk: Munis do look really attractive, and a place that we would take duration or interest rate risk. If you look at 10-year Munis compared to 30-year Munis, big difference comparing 5-year treasuries versus 30-year treasuries. You've got a pretty flat treasury curve, 5 to 30 years. In Munis, you have a pretty steep curve, an area that we would feel comfortable taking on some interest rate risk.

Robertson: And I think just outside of Munis, it's what we're seeing in fixed income altogether.

Text on screen: TITLE – Forward 5-year Return Estimates

Image on screen: The chart shows a hypothetical example of 5-year returns estimates, organized in four sections by trading product categories such as Equities, Fixed Income, Alternatives and Cash. Each section includes several rows, each communicating a specific product with an anticipated forward 5-year return. One row, about halfway down the chart, is highlighted to call out the U.S. High-Yield Municipal row, with an estimated 7.24% forward 5-year return.  Other rows, from top to bottom, include: For the Equities category:  Emerging Market Equity, 7.38%; Global Equity, 6.53%; U.S. Equity 6.50%; U.S. Small Cap Equity, 6.47%; Developed Market Equity, 6.27% . For the Fixed Income category: U.S High Yield Municipal, 7.24%; U.S. High Yield, 5.35%; U.S. Investment Grade Credit, 5.14%; U.S. Investment Grade Credit, 5.14%; U.S. Mortgage Backed Securities, 5.05%; Global Aggregate, 4.68%; Global Aggregate, 4.68%; U.S. Aggregate 4.64%. For the Alternatives category: Private Credit, 10.27%; Private Equity, 9.37%; Commodities, 7.60%; Diversified Hedge Fund Portfolio, 7.07%; REITs, 6.20%. For the Cash category : ICE BofA SOFR Overnight Rates Index, 3.51%

A lot of people are understanding the value that's in fixed income.

They're seeing these charts, but they are maybe not emotionally ready to get out into the market and so that's why I think we're here to share that when you're building a portfolio, it's diversified, it's resilient and there's also a lot of flexibility and liquidity in it.

Kronour: There's a lot to be excited about in fixed income , short term strategies that we offer yielding, one to one and a half percent above money markets. Munis look the most attractive, we've seen since the global financial crisis, that we've seen record outflows this year.

So, I think it's a great time to be looking at Munis and bonds matter within fixed income. You want to make sure that you're diversified in an event, but not break strategy to take advantage of what the Feds set us up for with these higher rates for longer.

Van Dyk: Well, this was a treat. Hopefully, it was valuable to the viewers and thank you for joining us for Macro and Markets in Minutes.

Text on screen: To learn more visit pimco.com

If you're interested in continuing this conversation on PIMCO's Cyclical outlook, please visit us on our website where we have a variety of resources or contact your PIMCO account manager and we'll be back next year for our full-length Macro and Markets CE webcast. We hope you'll join us then.

Text on screen: PIMCO

Disclosure


The replay or transcript thereof provided here omits certain information contained in the original webcast and is intended for illustrative purposes only and may not be appropriate for all investors. The information included herein is not based on any particularized financial situation, or need, and is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, a forecast, research, investment advice or a recommendation for any specific PIMCO or other security, strategy, product or service. Fixed income is only one possible portion of an investor’s portfolio, which can also include equities and other products. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. All investments contain risk and may lose value. Investors should speak to their financial advisors regarding the investment mix that may be right for them based on their financial situation and investment objective.

Past performance is not a guarantee or a reliable indicator of future results.

All investments contain risk and may lose value. Investing in the bond market is subject to risks, including market, interest rate, issuer, credit, call risk, inflation risk, and liquidity risk. The value of most bonds and bond strategies are impacted by changes in interest rates. Bonds and bond strategies with longer durations tend to be more sensitive and volatile than those with shorter durations; bond prices generally fall as interest rates rise, and low interest rate environments increase this risk. Reductions in bond counterparty capacity may contribute to decreased market liquidity and increased price volatility. Bond investments may be worth more or less than the original cost when redeemed. Income from municipal bonds is exempt from federal income tax and may be subject to state and local taxes and at times the alternative minimum tax. Equities may decline in value due to both real and perceived general market, economic, and industry conditions. Mortgage and asset-backed securities may be sensitive to changes in interest rates, subject to early repayment risk, and their value may fluctuate in response to the market’s perception of issuer creditworthiness; while generally supported by some form of government or private guarantee there is no assurance that private guarantors will meet their obligations. References to Agency and non-agency mortgage-backed securities refer to mortgages issued in the United States. U.S. agency mortgage-backed securities issued by Ginnie Mae (GNMA) are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Securities issued by Freddie Mac (FHLMC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) provide an agency guarantee of timely repayment of principal and interest but are not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Diversification does not ensure against loss.

Yield to Worst (YTW) is the estimated lowest potential yield that can be received on a bond without the issuer actually defaulting.

The correlation of various indexes or securities against one another or against inflation is based upon data over a certain time period. These correlations may vary substantially in the future or over different time periods that can result in greater volatility.

PIMCO does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your tax and/or legal counsel for specific tax or legal questions and concerns.

Statements concerning financial market trends or portfolio strategies are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate. There is no guarantee that these investment strategies will work under all market conditions or are appropriate for all investors and each investor should evaluate their ability to invest for the long term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should consult their investment professional prior to making an investment decision. Outlook and strategies are subject to change without notice.

This material contains the opinions of the manager and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material has been distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.

PIMCO as a general matter provides services to qualified institutions, financial intermediaries and institutional investors. Individual investors should contact their own financial professional to determine the most appropriate investment options for their financial situation. This material contains the current opinions of the manager and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material has been distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. PIMCO is a trademark of Allianz Asset Management of America LLC in the United States and throughout the world. ©2023, PIMCO

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