Blog

November 20, 2019
MARKETS
By Chia-Liang Lian, Steven T. Saruwatari
A longstanding theme of emerging markets (EM) investing is premised on supportive secular factors. In the decade prior to the Fed Taper Tantrum of May 2013, EM assets had enjoyed an uninterrupted episode of robust performance. During this period, USD-denominated sovereign debt returned a handsome 9.5% per annum, while local currency government debt posted an eye-popping gain of 11.4% per annum, according to the JPMorgan EMBIG and GBI-EM indices. What was the critical impetus that helped EM debt to assert itself as an asset class?
By Robert O. Abad
Civil disobedience turned violent. Government leaders forced to flee. Investors caught off-guard by a wave of social unrest sweeping across a number of countries. Such moments bring to mind the Arab Spring—a transformational time beginning in Tunisia in 2010 and that had long-lasting ramifications on growth, politics and society across much of the Islamic world, including protest, violent power struggles, Sectarianism, collapse of state systems, a second Arab Spring and ongoing conflict.
By Mark Hughes
In today’s low-growth, low-inflation global economy, it has been challenging for retail investors to find income for their portfolios. With approximately 25% of global fixed-income trading with negative yields and US credit spreads nearing cycle lows, traditional bond products no longer offer the yields they once did.
By Sean Johnson
Western Asset has been active in the non-QM market for a number of years and in the past two years alone we have securitized $3.5 billion of loans. We continue to be active in the market, as we add select new originators and purchase more loans with the intent to securitize them.
By Robert O. Abad
With more bonds drifting into negative yield territory, are income-generating opportunities going the way of the dinosaur?
October 23, 2019
ECONOMY
By Adauto Lima, Paulo Clini
The current GDP rebound has been unambiguously underwhelming by historical standards in Brazil. Recent activity data continued to disappoint analysts, including us. Over the course of the past year, we have sequentially revised downward our 2019 GDP growth forecast to 0.8% from 1.9%.
By Andreas Billmeier, PhD
In a two-part blog post, we take a look at German fiscal policy—what is changing, what needs to change, and by when.
October 01, 2019
MARKETS
By Annabel Rudebeck
It has been well telegraphed that European government bonds are negative-yielding across countries and tenors. In this post we look at the impact of negative-yielding government bonds on corporate bonds, considering both the market dislocations caused as well as the fundamental impacts.
By Vidhu Aggarwal
Technology is revolutionizing public finance and the municipal business by reshaping the way fiscal policies and municipal projects are designed and implemented.
By Kevin Ehrlich
Part I of this post addressed five myths and practice challenges for investment advisers. Here in Part II, we continue the discussion and address five more myths.
September 23, 2019
ECONOMY
By Kevin Kennedy
A dollar funding shortage hit markets last week as a perfect storm of factors combined to expose an insufficient quantity of cash in the system, creating severe upward pressure on overnight funding rates.
By Kevin Ehrlich
At Western Asset, we regularly exchange best practices and industry observations with our clients and colleagues that collectively can help address operational and regulatory challenges in the investment industry. This post highlights a handful of common misconceptions and practice challenges for investment advisers and political contributions they and their staffs make.
By Andreas Billmeier, PhD
Today, the European Central Bank (ECB) adopted a comprehensive package of measures geared at bringing the inflation outlook back in line with its 2% target.
By Quentin Lafosse
Notwithstanding their undeniable economic linkages, Poland and core eurozone countries, in particular Germany, have experienced meaningfully divergent growth over the last two years.
August 27, 2019
MARKETS
By Ryan Kohan
Many of the recent headlines about leveraged loans have highlighted the 40-week streak of retail fund outflows from the loan asset class, according to Lipper. The outflows have been driven by investors’ views that rates will continue to fall.
By Jason Straker
For investors in money market funds, this environment of higher-than-average interest rate volatility leads to the fundamental questions: how do managers think about rates and how do their views impact their funds’ investors?
By Gordon S. Brown
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently characterized the chances of a no-deal Brexit as 'vanishingly small' and 'a million-to-one against'. However, betting markets are of a different view.
By Amit Chopra
These are interesting times in bond markets. Around $15 trillion of government bonds worldwide now trade at negative yields and this number keeps growing.
August 13, 2019
CREDIT
By Kurt Halvorson
Fixed-income investors face a variety of questions; among them perhaps none is more important than the question of risk and reward.
August 12, 2019
MARKETS
By Michael C. Buchanan, Robert O. Abad
The expansion phase of the current global credit cycle has been going for 10 years. Many say it’s ending.
By Jie Peng
Offshore debt issuance by Chinese State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) has witnessed a phenomenal rise, making it too significant to ignore.
By Desmond Soon
The Hong Kong economy is very externally oriented and open, with foreign trade in goods and services equivalent to around three times its GDP. Therefore, it is important for Hong Kong to maintain a stable exchange rate.
By Harris A. Trifon
Over the last few years commercial real estate (CRE) collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) have moved from the fringes of the securitization market and now are entering the mainstream.
By John L. Bellows, PhD
The Federal Reserve (Fed) cut its benchmark interest rates by 25 bps yesterday and ended its balance sheet reduction two months ahead of schedule. Both moves were widely anticipated.
By Chia-Liang Lian, Kevin J. Ritter, Quentin Lafosse
EUR-denominated debt issued by emerging market (EM) countries/companies is asserting its place in the evolution of the asset class.
By Thea Okin
Responsible investing, when combined with strong performance, is a powerful way to impact society while meeting investors’ specific goals. It can be a true win-win situation.
By Swee Ching Lim
A proliferation of debt issuance by myriad financial institutions in China in recent years has led to increased market visibility.
By Nathalie Cuadrado
This month the UK government announced its Green Finance Strategy aimed at reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, a step change from the 2008 Climate Change Act which had set goals to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.
By Sean Rogan
On the 9th July 2019, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released its final decision on the form of capital that will make up part of the Total Loss Absorbing Capital (TLAC) for its domestic systemically important banks (D-SIBs), which comprise the four major Australian banks.
By Mark Hughes
Emerging market (EM) corporate bonds have come a long way over the past 15 years—from a handful of investment-grade-rated issuers to a full-blown asset class with approximately $1 trillion of outstanding bonds.
By Bonnie M. Wongtrakool
The effect of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors on investment returns is a perennial, albeit evolving, topic in the investment community.
July 09, 2019
INVESTING
By Cel Sibley
Girls Who Invest is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership in the asset management industry.
By Andreas Billmeier, PhD
In a “package deal” to fill a number of top positions in Europe, European leaders have recommended International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde to succeed Mario Draghi as President of the European Central Bank (ECB) in November.
July 03, 2019
ECONOMY
By Lawrence Daly
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut rates by 25 bps to 1% at their July meeting. This is not only the record low for the bank, but the first consecutive cut in interest rates in Australia since 2012.
July 02, 2019
ECONOMY
By Andreas Billmeier, PhD
Following Draghi’s “whatever it takes” speech in 2012, the ECB enhanced its toolbox with unconventional policy measures in addition to introducing negative interest rates in 2014.
July 01, 2019
ECONOMY
By Matthew D. Jackson
European credit investors seem increasingly comfortable throwing themselves off the balcony, safe in the knowledge that the ECB’s magic carpet will spare them from harm.
By Robert O. Abad
For now, the US has stated that trade talks are “back on track”; it will suspend the 25% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of imports from China and it agreed to lift US supplier restrictions on Huawei (a focal point in the negotiations).
By Kevin J. Ritter, Kevin X. Zhang
In the evolution of emerging markets (EM) debt, the proliferation of supranational securities denominated in local currencies has been a notable highlight.
By John L. Bellows, PhD
The Fed did not cut rates or change its balance sheet policy yesterday, but that hardly mattered. The Fed was dovish in every other way that counts, from the statement to the dots to the press conference.
By Desmond Fu
The secular re-rating of the Indonesian sovereign over the last two decades has been nothing short of spectacular.
By Suzanne Trepp
Historically, the most senior positions at asset managers have been overwhelmingly dominated by men, who represent approximately 50% of the population, but hold more than 90% of senior roles at “buy-side” firms.
By Gordon S. Brown
Since the great financial crisis roughly 10 years ago, investors are conditioned to expect the unexpected, but as long-term value investors, we at Western Asset still firmly believe that ultimately, macroeconomic fundamentals prevail and are the key determinant of valuations.
By Mike Borowske
For the better part of the last two years, Western Asset has held a cautious view of the automotive space. While there are positive attributes we can identify, the industry has been under siege for the last 18-24 months.
By Kevin J. Ritter
Western Asset views high-grade emerging market (EM) debt as a “must have” allocation for insurance assets. As an asset class, EM debt is prone to suffering from the problem of perception.
By Sebastian Angerer
The decline in oil prices has been a catalyst for fueling a surge in debt issuance in the Middle East in recent years. As background, the Arab Spring earlier this decade prompted an increase in government spending by the six-member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
By Chia-Liang Lian, Kevin J. Ritter
Last night, President Trump announced via Twitter that on June 10 the US would impose a 5% tariff (with the potential for further increases) on all goods coming into the US from Mexico until the “illegal migrants” transiting through Mexico into the US are stopped.
By Douglas A. Hulsey
The age-old question of whether it’s better to utilize an active or passive investing approach for fixed-income continues to this day.
By Kurt Halvorson
Over the past 18 months, investors in the US credit markets have faced a variety of dark clouds as they attempt to navigate this new age of headline driven volatility.
By Paulo Clini, Adauto Lima
Western Asset recently cut our 2019 GDP growth outlook for Brazil to 1.3% from 1.9%. The move came on the back of weaker-than-expected data for 1Q19, and underscores the frustratingly sub-par pace of expansion over the last three years.
By John L. Bellows, PhD
Last week the US again increased tariffs on certain Chinese imports. This was the third round of tariffs on Chinese imports in the last 18 months, following announcements in 2018 of 20% tariffs on Chinese washing machines and solar panels, and 10% tariffs on $200 billion of select imports.
By Mark Hughes
Emerging markets debt is a growing and diverse asset class that allows participants to invest in over 70 different countries globally. While this breadth presents investors with opportunities for both diversification and yield enhancement in their portfolios, it also comes with potential credit risk and information asymmetry.
May 14, 2019
ECONOMY
By Amit Chopra
Despite massive monetary easing by developed market central banks since the great recession, inflation has failed to emerge. Falling inflation expectations are now becoming a concern.
May 10, 2019
ECONOMY
By Michael C. Buchanan
About a year and a half ago, investors started to get concerned about the significant growth in BBB rated debt issues, which represent the lowest rung of investment-grade (IG) credit. Today, BBBs comprise nearly 50% of the IG market, which has more than doubled since the financial crisis 10 years ago.
May 08, 2019
ECONOMY
By Chia-Liang Lian
The most recent tariff threats against China have scuttled a trade deal that was to be announced on May 10. President Trump plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% from 10% effective this Friday, May 10.
May 06, 2019
INVESTING
By Bonnie M. Wongtrakool
Many investors that initiated due diligence on ESG out of curiosity or in response to stakeholder pressure are now taking steps to invest in a future that is not only wealthier but also healthier and cleaner.
By Greg Handler
Price growth in the US housing market has decelerated in recent months after facing increased headwinds of reduced affordability and higher mortgage rates throughout the latter part of 2018.
By Wontae Kim
General elections in India officially kicked off on April 11 and will stretch out over six weeks in seven rounds of voting, with results expected to be announced on May 23. All 543 elected Members of Parliament (MPs) will be elected from single-member constituencies using the “first-pass-the-post” electoral system.
By J. Gibson Cooper, René Ledis
Despite recent downward revisions to economic growth forecasts, oil prices have held up well. Why is that?
By Sean Rogan, Paul Svoboda
Broadly, we consider current mortgage loan quality within the Australian banking sector to be at historically high levels, and arrears near cyclical lows. The most recent data includes reporting by the banks, plus Standard & Poor’s RMBS Performance Watch as of December 31, 2018.
By Judith Ewald
In a surprising and possibly precedent-setting decision in January, a ruling was made that Puerto Rico did not have to pay the special revenue bonds issued by its Highways and Transportation Authority.
By Robert E. Amodeo
Much has been said lately about the flatness of the yield curve. Municipal bonds, with their own peculiar yield curve, have also exhibited remarkable flatness in recent months.
April 17, 2019
ECONOMY
By Chia-Liang Lian
This week’s 1Q19 GDP report for China showed that the economy grew 6.4% year-over-year, the same pace as the previous quarter and matching the post-Lehman low in 1Q09. Nonetheless, the outcome surprised on the upside (consensus 6.3%).
April 16, 2019
MARKETS
By Desmond Soon
The Republic of Indonesia goes to the polls on Wednesday, April 17, to elect a President, Vice President and Members of Parliament. Indonesians based overseas have already voted in droves at foreign voting centers, but on Wednesday 193 million Indonesians will cast their ballots in more than 80,000 polling stations spread across this vast archipelago of 17,000 islands.
April 12, 2019
ECONOMY
By Michael J. Bazdarich, PhD
Last year, the Fed spent a lot of time and effort arguing that it needed to raise interest rates to get them back to “neutral” levels, to where they were no longer stimulating the economy. While stock market and global growth concerns have put this issue on the back burner, it is sure to resurface again soon.
By John L. Bellows, PhD
Herman Cain clearly has President Trump’s confidence, but it’s yet to be seen whether a more skeptical Senate will vote for his confirmation to the Federal Reserve Board (the Fed Board). The prospects for Mr. Cain’s confirmation are in constant flux.
By Ahmet E. Kocagil, PhD
Western Asset firmly believes that a strong risk management culture is fundamental to a successful investment management record. As Benjamin Graham once said, “the essence of investment management is the management of risks, not the management of returns.”
April 03, 2019
MARKETS
By Gordon S. Brown
So this is what happens when you leave it to UK Parliament to decide! With the government repeatedly failing to secure a majority for the Brexit deal it agreed to with the EU, on Monday Parliament “took control” of the political agenda to try and find common ground on the way forward.
By Amit Chopra, Julien Scholnick
Discussions about an inverted yield curve—and whether it portends a recession—are back in the spotlight. Of particular interest is the spread between 3-month T-bills and 10-year USTs, as this curve went negative on March 23.
March 26, 2019
MARKETS
By Robert O. Abad
Three storylines dominate today’s financial headlines: slowing global growth, rising debt levels and the extended credit cycle. Perhaps they’ve convinced you that an imminent crisis is lurking around the corner.

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Western Asset is a leading fixed-income asset manager with nearly 50 years of investment experience through multiple market cycles. Our investment philosophy focuses on identifying long-term fundamental value by using diversified strategies sourced from our investment professionals around the globe.

Our blog leverages the Firm’s award-winning investment capabilities and vast intellectual capital to share our views on timely topics with our clients and community. From market events to trends in asset management, the blog delivers research and analysis every week.

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