Sailboat at sea during a cloudy sunset
Paid post by International Business of Federated Hermes

Fiscal firepower: shock and awe in fixed-income markets

Various measures have been brought in to help consumers meet their debt obligations, including payment holidays for mortgages, credit cards and other consumer-debt products (although the obligation remains with the individual to service the debt). It will be up to lenders to decide whether to extend the payment holidays, although existing arrangements to protect borrowers remain in place.

While governments and central banks have announced supportive measures, we still believe that arrears will rise. Where these mortgages and loans have been securitised, there will be disruptions to the usual cash flows coming into the special-purpose vehicles holding them. This will affect the loans backing collateralised-loan obligations (CLOs), as well as the degree to which individuals are able to repay the debts that underly residential mortgage-backed securities and asset-backed securities. 

Structures are designed to withstand borrowers not paying interest and principal for a period of time. The length of time, as well as how much can be covered by reserves in the structure, varies. There are also support mechanisms for companies, although we expect some deterioration in the credit quality of the collateral backing CLOs as revenues have been severely hit. Defaults should increase and agencies are likely to take large-scale action on loans, which will impact the CLOs that hold them. 

In this environment, there is more of a need than ever to stress test our underlying portfolios. The scale, severity and duration of the crisis is unknown, and we are working to assess whether structures can withstand the deterioration in performance, lack of cash flow and increase in defaults. 

Nonetheless, liquidity has returned to the structured-credit market since the sell-off began. This quarter, structured-credit instruments have risen up our relative-value ranking of fixed-income assets – despite the fact that liquidity in this area was far from perfect during the sell-off. Our analysis suggests that the asset class will benefit from some of the government initiatives and that protection remains more robust than price moves suggest.

Weathering the storm: seeking upside amid the turmoil 

The coronavirus crisis has emphasised how critical active credit selection is to portfolio construction. It is vital to assess the idiosyncrasies of each trade by modelling and stress-testing the fundamentals of various economic scenarios, as well as considering the impact of technical and regulatory changes. 

At the international business of Federated Hermes, we take pride in the fact that our credit analysts tackle security selection in a high-conviction, bottom-up manner. While we face considerable uncertainty in the near term, we will continue to take an active, flexible approach to seeking opportunities throughout the fixed-income universe – something we believe should stand us in good stead in this turbulent and fast-changing environment. 

Read the full 360° here.  

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up, and you may not get back the original amount invested.

For professional investors only. This is a marketing communication. The views and opinions contained herein are those of the Credit Team at the international business of Federated Hermes, and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other communications, strategies or products. The information herein is believed to be reliable, but Federated Hermes does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. No responsibility can be accepted for errors of fact or opinion. This material is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. This document has no regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific recipient. This document is published solely for informational purposes and is not to be construed as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any securities or related financial instruments. Figures, unless otherwise indicated, are sourced from Federated Hermes. This document is not investment research and is available to any investment firm wishing to receive it. The distribution of the information contained in this document in certain jurisdictions may be restricted and, accordingly, persons into whose possession this document comes are required to make themselves aware of and to observe such restrictions.