Tax-adjusted income makes municipal bonds attractive in today’s market

Tax-adjusted income makes municipal bonds attractive in today’s market

Just as rising tides lift all boats, rising yields have created opportunity in every corner of the multitrillion-dollar bond market. Investors no longer need to wander desperately into risky corners of the market to find yield. The chart below highlights yields across fixed income segments. In particular, municipal bonds may offer favorable income relative to taxable fixed income alternatives – especially when you consider their tax-adjusted yield.

Municipal bonds may offer favorable income compared with taxable fixed income alternatives

Municipal bonds may offer favorable income compared with taxable fixed income alternatives

* Illustration assumes 37% federal tax bracket + 3.8% Medicare tax.

Source: Barclays Live. As of 30 September, 2023. Past performance does not guarantee of future results. Sector yields are represented by the following indices: US Treasury (Bloomberg US Treasury Index), US agency (Bloomberg US Agency Index), Mortgage-backed securities (Bloomberg US Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) Index), Asset-backed securities (Bloomberg US Fixed-Rate Asset Backed Securities (ABS) Index), Investment grade corporate (Bloomberg US Corporate Bond Index), Commercial mortgage-backed securities (Bloomberg US Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CMBS) ERISA-Eligible Index), Municipal (Bloomberg Municipal Bond Index), High yield corporate (Bloomberg US Corporate High-Yield Index), Emerging markets (J.P. Morgan Emerging Markets Bond Index Global (EMBIG)), High yield municipal (Bloomberg High-Yield Municipal Bond Index). Please see end of document for important disclosures and definitions.

What this means for investors

The net result of the US Federal Reserve's tightening cycle has been a significant increase in the yield available for investors who desire tax-exempt income. The market has reached yield levels not experienced in more than a decade. In our view, from a credit perspective, this is occurring at a time when municipal credit generally is as strong as it has been in decades, making municipal bonds a very compelling opportunity for fixed income investors.


Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Nothing presented should be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell any security or follow any investment technique or strategy.

The views expressed represent the investment team’s assessment of the market environment as of November 2023, and should not be considered a recommendation to buy, hold, or sell any security, and should not be relied on as research or investment advice. Views are subject to change without notice.

Charts shown throughout are for illustrative purposes only and not meant to predict actual results.

Chart is for illustrative purposes and is not representative of the performance of any specific investment.

Market risk is the risk that all or a majority of the securities in a certain market – like the stock market or bond market – will decline in value because of factors such as adverse political or economic conditions, future expectations, investor confidence, or heavy institutional selling.

Investments may not receive payment of principal, interest, and other amounts due in connection with bank loans and other direct indebtedness because they primarily depend on the financial conditions of the borrower and lending institution.

Fixed income securities and bond funds can lose value, and investors can lose principal, as interest rates rise. They also may be affected by economic conditions that hinder an issuer's ability to make interest and principal payments on its debt. This includes prepayment risk, the risk that the principal of a bond that is held by a portfolio will be prepaid prior to maturity, at the time when interest rates are lower than what the bond was paying. A portfolio may then have to reinvest that money at a lower interest rate.

High yielding, non-investment-grade bonds (junk bonds) involve higher risk than investment grade bonds. The high yield secondary market is particularly susceptible to liquidity problems when institutional investors, such as mutual funds and certain other financial institutions, temporarily stop buying bonds for regulatory, financial, or other reasons. In addition, a less liquid secondary market makes it more difficult for a fund to obtain precise valuations of the high yield securities.

The Bloomberg High-Yield Municipal Bond Index is composed of US dollar-denominated, non- investment-grade, tax-exempt bonds for which the middle rating among Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Fitch, Inc., and Standard & Poor’s is Ba1/BB+/BB+ or below.

The Bloomberg Municipal Bond Index measures the total return performance of the long-term, investment grade tax-exempt bond market.

The Bloomberg US Agency Index is composed of publicly issued debt of US government agencies, quasi- federal corporations, and corporate or foreign debt guaranteed by the US government. The largest issuers are Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System (FHLB).

The Bloomberg US Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CMBS) ERISA-Eligible Index measures the market of commercial mortgage-backed securities transactions with a minimum current size of $300 million and includes investment grade securities that are Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)-eligible under the underwriter’s exemption.

The Bloomberg US Corporate Bond Index, formerly also known as the Bloomberg US Corporate Investment Grade Index, is composed of US dollar-denominated, investment grade corporate bonds that are US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered or 144A with registration rights, and issued by industrial, utility, and financial companies. All bonds in the index have at least one year to maturity.

The Bloomberg US Corporate High-Yield Index is composed of US dollar-denominated, non-investment- grade corporate bonds for which the middle rating among Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Fitch, Inc., and Standard & Poor’s is Ba1/BB+/BB+ or below.

The Bloomberg US Fixed-Rate Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) Index tracks the fixed-rate ABS market for bonds with collateral types of credit cards, autos, and stranded-cost utility (rate reduction bonds). To be included in the index, an issue must have a fixed-rate coupon structure, have an average maturity of greater than or equal to one year, and be part of a public deal.

The Bloomberg US Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) Index measures the performance of agency mortgage-backed pass-through securities (both fixed-rate and hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage) issued by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Association (Freddie Mac), and Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae).

The Bloomberg US Treasury Index measures the performance of US Treasury bonds and notes that have at least one year to maturity.

The J.P. Morgan Emerging Markets Bond Index Global (EMBIG) tracks total returns for US dollar - denominated debt instruments issued by emerging market sovereign and quasi-sovereign entities, including Brady bonds, loans, and Eurobonds.

Index performance returns do not reflect any management fees, transaction costs, or expenses. Indices are unmanaged and one cannot invest directly in an index.

Recipients should not construe the contents of this material as tax advice. Macquarie Asset Management is not in the business of providing tax services.

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