1.) The Risk/Return Benefits of Shorter-Term, High-Quality Bonds
by Alejandro Murguía, Ph.D., and Dean T. Umemoto
* Fixed-income instruments are largely used within a portfolio to reduce volatility and provide a more consistent distribution stream for clients. Holding non-callable instruments backed by the U.S. government offer significant protection in times of financial crisis while reducing the long-term opportunity cost of bonds.
* U.S. government instruments with maturities from one to five years present the most favorable risk/reward profile. Additionally, the term premiums for extending maturities begin to decline for longer-term bonds.
* Mutual fund managers among the high-quality short-term (HS) and high-quality intermediate-term (HI) bond funds underperformed their corresponding government indexes and index funds over an entire decade. The average top quartile fixed-income managers in the HS and HI classes also underperformed their corresponding index funds.
* We analyzed the credit composition of the ten top-performing actively managed portfolios across the HS and HI mutual funds. Much of the value-added returns from these actively managed portfolios seem to stem from additional credit and call-option risk.
* There seems to be a direct inverse relationship between investment performance and fund expenses. The higher the investment return, the lower the fund expense ratio. Differences in expense ratios explain much of the differences in net returns.
* Further analysis of the top performing funds reveals that non-active strategies such as an indexing or variable maturity approach may be an investor's best option.
2.) Securitization: The Tool of Financial Transformation
by Fabozzi, Frank J. and Kothari, Vinod, Yale ICF Working Paper No. 07-07
Securitization as a financial instrument has had an extremely significant impact on the world's financial system. First, by integrating capital markets and the uses of resources - such as mortgage originators, finance companies, governments, etc. - it has strengthened the trend towards disintermediation. Having been able to mitigate agency costs, it has made lending more efficient; evidence of this can be observed in the mortgage markets. By permitting firms to originate and hold assets off the balance sheet, it has generated much higher levels of leverage and, though arguably, greater economies of scale. Combination of securitization techniques with credit derivatives and risk transfer devices continues to develop innovative methods of transforming risk into a commodity and allow various market participants to tap into sectors which were otherwise not open to them.
In its broadest sense, the term “securitization” implies a process by which a financial relationship is converted into a transaction. A financial transaction is the coming together of two or more entities; a financial relationship is their staying together. For example, a loan to a corporation is a financial relationship; once the loan is transformed into a tradable bond, it is a transaction. We find several examples in the history of the evolution of finance of relationships that have been converted into transactions. The creation of “stock,” representing ownership in a corporation, is one of the earliest and most important examples of this process because of its impact on the growth of the corporate form of business organization. The process of converting loans to corporations of high credit quality corporate borrowers, and in the 1970s expanding that opportunity to speculative-grade corporate borrowers, into publicly traded bonds is another example of this. Commercial paper is another example of securitization of relationships as it securitizes a trade debt.
3) Collateralized Debt Obligations and Credit Risk Transfer
by Lucas, Douglas J., Goodman, Laurie and Fabozzi, Frank J., (2007). Yale ICF Working Paper No. 07-06
Several studies have reported how new credit risk transfer vehicles have made it easier to reallocate large amounts of credit risk from the financial sector to the non-financial sector of the capital markets. In this article, we describe one of these new credit risk transfer vehicles, the collateralized debt obligation. Synthetic credit debt obligations utilize credit default swaps, another relatively new credit risk transfer vehicle.
Financial institutions face five major risks: credit, interest rate, price, currency, and liquidity. The development of the derivatives markets prior to 1990 provided financial institutions with efficient vehicles for the transfer of interest rate, price, and currency risks, as well as enhancing the liquidity of the underlying assets. However, it is only in recent years that the market for the efficient transfer of credit risk has developed. Credit risk is the risk that a debt instrument will decline in value as a result of the borrower's inability (real or perceived) to satisfy the contractual terms of its borrowing arrangement. In the case of corporate debt obligations, credit risk encompasses default, credit spread, and rating downgrade risks.
The most obvious way for a financial institution to transfer the credit risk of a loan it has originated is to sell it to another party. Loan covenants typically require that the obligor be informed of the sale. The drawback of a sale in the case of corporate loans is the potential impairment of the originating financial institution's relationship with the obligor of the loan sold. Syndicated loans overcome the drawback of an outright sale because banks in the syndicate may sell their loan shares in the secondary market. The sale may be through an assignment or through participation. While the former mechanism for a syndicated loan requires the approval of the obligor, the latter does not since the payments are merely passed through to the purchaser and therefore the obligor need not know about the sale.
Another form of credit risk transfer (CRT) vehicle developed in the 1980s is securitization [Fabozzi and Kothari (2007)]. In a securitization, a financial institution that originates loans pools them and sells them to a special purpose entity (SPE). The SPE obtains funds to acquire the pool of loans by issuing securities. Payment of interest and principal on the securities issued by the SPE is obtained from the cash flow of the pool of loans. While the financial institution employing securitization retains some of the credit risk associated with the pool of loans, the majority of the credit risk is transferred to the holders of the securities issued by the SPE.
Two recent developments for transferring credit risk are credit derivatives and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). For financial institutions, credit derivatives allow the transfer of credit risk to another party without the sale of the loan. A CDO is an application of the securitization technology. With the development of the credit derivatives market, CDOs can be created without the actual sale of a pool of loans to an SPE using credit derivatives. CDOs created using credit derivatives are referred to as synthetic CDOs.
4.) A Closer Look At Stable Value Funds Performance
by Babbel, David F. and Herce, Miguel,(September 18, 2007). Wharton Financial Institutions Center Working Paper #07-21
There exists a paucity of academic literature on stable value (SV) funds, although a growing volume of industry and practitioner literature has provided an in-depth look at how the funds are managed and the guarantees secured. To date, no rigorous analysis has been published on the performance of stable value funds from the investor's point of view. In this study, we provide what we understand to be the first published analysis of the performance of stable value funds