Capitalize on historic municipal bond yields

Outlook 2024Capitalize on historic municipal bond yields

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. We see potential for the municipal bond market to experience a recovery into 2024, as the lagging effects of higher rates and tightening credit conditions exert their force on the economy and the Fed eventually ends its policy of interest rate hikes.

With tax-exempt yields already at levels not seen in more than a decade, this may result in a significant investment opportunity for long-term investors.

A historic tax-exempt income opportunity

Current taxable-equivalent yields for municipal securities indicate to us that investors have an opportunity to earn significant income, from a historical perspective. What makes this opportunity so compelling, in our view, is that, from a credit standpoint, this is occurring at a time when municipal credit is generally as strong as it has been in decades.

Taxable-equivalent yield: Current vs. historical

Taxable-equivalent yield: Current vs. historical chart

Sources: Municipal Market Data, Bloomberg (November 2023).

* Taxable-equivalent yield. This is the yield that is required on a taxable investment to make it equal to the yield on a tax-exempt investment. The illustration assumes the top federal income tax bracket of 37% plus 3.8% Medicare tax. The light green bar represents the difference between the yield of the bond (dark green bar) and the taxable-equivalent yield.

Listen to our podcast

Have investors missed the municipal bond opportunity? Greg Gizzi, Head of US Fixed Income and Head of Municipal Bonds, shares his outlook for investors and if there is still time to take advantage of this historic opportunity.

Outlook 2024 webinar

Hear from our panel of investment experts as they discuss actionable investing ideas that can help investors navigate the uncertainty and capitalize on opportunities in the months ahead.

Have questions? —

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Diversification may not protect against market risk. • 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. Funds that invest primarily in one state may be more susceptible to economic, regulatory, and other factors of that state than geographically diversified funds. • Substantially all dividend income derived from tax-free funds is exempt from federal income tax. Some income may be subject to state and local taxes and/ or the federal alternative minimum tax (AMT) that applies to certain investors. Capital gains, if any, are taxable. • Duration number will change as market conditions change. Therefore, duration should not be solely relied upon to indicate a municipal bond fund’s potential volatility. • IBOR risk is the risk that changes related to the use of the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) or similar rates (such as EONIA) could have adverse impacts on financial instruments that reference these rates. The abandonment of these rates could affect the value and liquidity of instruments that reference them and could affect investment strategy performance. • The disruptions caused by natural disasters, pandemics, or similar events could prevent the Fund from executing advantageous investment decisions in a timely manner and could negatively impact the Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective and the value of the Fund’s investments.

© 2024 Morningstar. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The Morningstar Rating™ for funds, or “star rating”, is calculated for managed products (including mutual funds, variable annuity and variable life subaccounts, exchange-traded funds, closed-end funds, and separate accounts) with at least a three-year history. Exchange-traded funds and open-end mutual funds are considered a single population for comparative purposes. It is calculated based on a Morningstar Risk-Adjusted Return measure that accounts for variation in a managed product’s monthly excess performance, placing more emphasis on downward variations and rewarding consistent performance. The top 10% of products in each product category receive 5 stars, the next 22.5% receive 4 stars, the next 35% receive 3 stars, the next 22.5% receive 2 stars, and the bottom 10% receive 1 star. The Overall Morningstar Rating for a managed product is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its three-, five-, and 10-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. The weights are: 100% three-year rating for 36-59 months of total returns, 60% five-year rating/40% three-year rating for 60-119 months of total returns, and 50% 10-year rating/30% five-year rating/20% three-year rating for 120 or more months of total returns. While the 10-year overall star rating formula seems to give the most weight to the 10-year period, the most recent three-year period actually has the greatest impact because it is included in all three rating periods.

DVHIX rated 5, 4, 5, and 5 stars for the overall, 3-, 5-, and 10-year periods among 187, 187, 176, and 115 US High Yield Muni funds, respectively. DTFIX rated 3, 5, and 5 stars for the 3-, 5-, and 10-year periods among 163, 153, and 113, US Muni National Long funds respectively. There are 163 funds in the overall rating. DUSIX rated 4, 5, and 4 stars for the 3-, 5-, and 10-year periods among 259, 236 and 176 US Muni National Intermediate funds respectively. There are 259 funds in the overall rating. The calculation is based on a Morningstar Risk-Adjusted Return measure that accounts for variation in a managed product’s monthly excess performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

All third-party marks cited are the property of their respective owners.

Macquarie Asset Management (MAM) is the asset management division of Macquarie Group.  MAM is an integrated asset manager across public and private markets offering a diverse range of capabilities, including real assets, real estate, credit, equities and multi-asset solutions.  Macquarie Group refers to Macquarie Group Limited and its subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide. Delaware Funds by Macquarie refers to certain investment solutions that MAM distributes, offers, or advises. Investment advisory services are provided to the Delaware Funds by Delaware Management Company, a series of Macquarie Investment Management Business Trust (MIMBT), a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered investment adviser.  The Delaware Funds are distributed by Delaware Distributors, L.P., a registered broker/dealer and member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and an affiliate of MIMBT.

Other than Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 (“Macquarie Bank”), any Macquarie Group entity noted in this document is not an authorised deposit-taking institution for the purposes of the Banking Act 1959 (Commonwealth of Australia). The obligations of these other Macquarie Group entities do not represent deposits or other liabilities of Macquarie Bank. Macquarie Bank does not guarantee or otherwise provide assurance in respect of the obligations of these other Macquarie Group entities. In addition, if this document relates to an investment, (a) the investor is subject to investment risk including possible delays in repayment and loss of income and principal invested and (b) none of Macquarie Bank or any other Macquarie Group entity guarantees any particular rate of return on or the performance of the investment, nor do they guarantee repayment of capital in respect of the investment.

Document must be used in its entirety.

© 2024 Macquarie Management Holdings, Inc.