Despite recent favorable inflation trends, yields across the bond market remain elevated, hovering around 10-year highs. Increased bond yields and lower prices are often related to an increase in perceived market risk. This backdrop begs the question: how should fixed-income investors position their portfolios in today’s market environment? 

With a late cycle economy and sticky inflation, investing in higher credit quality fixed income bonds, while locking in yields for durable income, may be rewarding in the longer term. 

While most investors are familiar with tax-exempt municipal bonds, their taxable counterparts are often overlooked. Based on market size according to Bloomberg, 20% of the $4 trillion municipal bond market are taxable issues, often the same entities that issue in the tax-exempt space.  Over the past several years, taxable municipals have gained traction among US institutional investors, particularly insurers. The attraction is fueled by the potential benefits they offer.

Strong Credit Quality:

  • Strategic alternative to investment grade corporates. 

77% of of taxable municipal bonds are rated AA or higher, contrasting with 9% of global investment grade corporates1

Figure 1: An Opportunity to Increase Credit Quality

Source: Bloomberg as of July 31, 2023.  Taxable Municipals represented by ICE BofA Broad US Taxable Municipal Securities Index (TXMB). Global Corporates represented by Bloomberg Global Aggregate Corporates Index.

It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Please see disclosures and index descriptions at the end of this document.

  • Stronger credit metric compared to US treasuries.

Soaring US Federal budget deficits (nearing $2 Trillion) and significant increases in overall debt to GDP (35% in 1980s versus nearly 125% today) have put US Treasury debt at risk for a possible downgrade by Moody’s Investor Service.  In contrast, most US states have a constitutional requirement to balance their budgets and have maintained steady leverage metrics over the past decade.

Lower Ratings Volatility

Historically, municipals have experienced lower ratings volatility when compared to corporate bonds.These higher credit quality borrowers with monopolistic characteristics have dedicated cash flows which help drive repayment consistency on debt service. This contrasts with corporate bonds, where most cash flows are unsecured, creating less payment certainty.

Figure 2: Opportunity to Lock in Durable Income

Source: Bloomberg

Attractive Curve Positioning

In eight of the last ten years, taxable municipals have outperformed the Bloomberg US Aggregate Index (Aggregate).  As of September 2023, municipals outperformed the Aggregate year-to-date by 209 basis points (bps).3

In contrast to investment grade corporates, an allocation to taxable municipals can offer higher yields and achieve positive roll-down effects. This allocation may also boost total return and provide a cushion in the event rates continue to rise.  

For insurers with longer-term investment horizons, tapping into attractive value opportunities at the longer-end of the curve may be beneficial. Expanding into taxable municipal bonds provides enhanced diversification via high quality bonds with the potential for appealing long-term returns.

Subscribe to get MacKay Shields insights delivered to your inbox.

1. As measured by the ICE BofA Broad US Taxable Municipal Securities Index and the Bloomberg Global Aggregate Corporates Index.
2. Moody’s Trends in Global Corporates Rating Transitions, Moody’s US Municipal Bond Defaults and Recoveries as of October 18, 2023
3. Source: Bloomberg



Availability of this document and products and services provided by MacKay Shields LLC, MacKay Shields UK LLP and MacKay Shields Europe Investment Management Limited (collectively, “MacKay Shields”) may be limited by applicable laws and regulations in certain jurisdictions and this document is provided only for persons to whom this document and the products and services of MacKay Shields may otherwise lawfully be issued or made available. None of the products and services provided by MacKay Shields are offered to any person in any jurisdiction where such offering would be contrary to local law or regulation. This document is provided for information purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice and should not be construed as an offer to buy securities. The contents of this document have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in any jurisdiction.

This material contains the opinions of certain professionals at MacKay Shields but not necessarily those of MacKay Shields LLC. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. This material is distributed for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and opinions contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made and MacKay Shields assumes no duty and does not undertake to update forward-looking statements. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of MacKay Shields LLC. ©2023, MacKay Shields LLC. All Rights Reserved.


This document is intended only for the use of professional investors as defined in the Alternative Investment Fund Manager’s Directive and/or the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s Conduct of Business Sourcebook. To the extent this document has been issued in the United Kingdom, it has been issued by MacKay Shields UK LLP, 80 Coleman Street, London, UK EC2R 5BJ, which is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.  To the extent this document has been issued in the EEA, it has been issued by MacKay Shields Europe Investment Management Limited, Hamilton House, 28 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2 Ireland, which is authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.


The information in these materials is not an offer to sell securities or a solicitation of an offer to buy securities in any jurisdiction of Canada.  In Canada, any offer or sale of securities or the provision of any advisory or investment fund manager services will be made only in accordance with applicable Canadian securities laws.  More specifically, any offer or sale of securities will be made in accordance with applicable exemptions to dealer and investment fund manager registration requirements, as well as under an exemption from the requirement to file a prospectus, and any advice given on securities will be made in reliance on applicable exemptions to adviser registration requirements.

Past performance is not indicative of future results.


Comparisons to a financial index are provided for illustrative purposes only. Comparisons to an index are subject to limitations because portfolio holdings, volatility and other portfolio characteristics may differ materially from the index. Unlike an index, portfolios are actively managed and may also include derivatives. There is no guarantee that any of the securities in an index are contained in any managed portfolio. The performance of an index may assume reinvestment of dividends and income, or follow other index-specific methodologies and criteria, but does not reflect the impact of fees, applicable taxes or trading costs which, unlike an index, may reduce the returns of a managed portfolio. Investors cannot invest in an index. Because of these differences, the performance of an index should not be relied upon as an accurate measure of comparison.



Source: ICE Data Indices, LLC (“ICE Data”), is used with permission. ICE® is a registered trademark of ICE Data or its affiliates, and BofA® is a registered trademark of Bank of America Corporation licensed by Bank of America Corporation and its affiliates (“BofA”) and may not be used without BofA’s prior written approval. ICE Data, its affiliates and their respective third party suppliers disclaim any and all warranties and representations, express and/or implied, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or use, including the indices, index data and any data included in, related to, or derived therefrom. Neither ICE Data, its affiliates nor their respective third party suppliers shall be subject to any damages or liability with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the indices or the index data or any component thereof, and the indices and index data and all components thereof are provided on an “as is” basis and your use is at your own risk. Ice data, its affiliates and their respective third party suppliers do not sponsor, endorse, or recommend MacKay shields LLC, or any of its products or services.


“Bloomberg®”, “Bloomberg Indices®”, Bloomberg Fixed Income Indices, Bloomberg Equity Indices and all other Bloomberg indices referenced herein are service marks of Bloomberg Finance L.P. and its affiliates, including Bloomberg Index Services Limited (“BISL”), the administrator of the indices (collectively, “Bloomberg”) and have been licensed for use for certain purposes by MacKay Shields LLC (“MacKay Shields”). Bloomberg is not affiliated with MacKay Shields, and Bloomberg does not approve, endorse, review, or recommend MacKay Shields or any products, funds or services described herein. Bloomberg does not guarantee the timeliness, accurateness, or completeness of any data or information relating to MacKay Shields or any products, funds or services described herein.


The following indices may be referred to in this document:

Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index

The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Index represents securities that are SEC-registered, taxable, and dollar denominated.  Must have at least one year to final maturity regardless of call features.   Must have at least $300 million par amount outstanding.  Must be rated investment-grade (Baa3/BBB- or higher) by at least two of the following ratings agencies: Moody's, S&P, Fitch. Must be dollar-denominated and non-convertible.


Bloomberg Global Aggregate Corporate Index

Bloomberg Global Aggregate Corporate Index is a flagship measure of global investment grade, fixed-rate corporate debt. This multi-currency benchmark includes bonds from developed and emerging markets issuers within the industrial, utility and financial sectors. You cannot invest directly in an index.


ICE BofA Broad U.S. Taxable Municipal Securities Index

ICE BofA Broad U.S. Taxable Municipal Securities Index tracks the performance of U.S. dollar denominated debt publicly issued by U.S. states and territories, and their political subdivisions, in the U.S. domestic market. Qualifying securities must be subject to U.S. federal taxes and must have at least 18 months to maturity at point of issuance, at least one year remaining term to final maturity to enter the index and one month remaining term to final maturity to remain in the index, a fixed coupon schedule (including zero coupon bonds) and an investment grade rating (based on an average of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch). The call date on which a pre-refunded bond will be redeemed is used for purposes of determining qualification with respect to final maturity requirements. Minimum size requirements vary based on the initial term to final maturity at time of issuance. Securities with an initial term to final maturity greater than or equal to one year and less than five years must have a current amount outstanding of at least $10 million. Securities with an initial term to final maturity greater than or equal to five years and less than ten years must have a current amount outstanding of at least $15 million. Securities with an initial term to final maturity of ten years or more must have a current amount outstanding of at least $25 million. “Direct pay” Build America Bonds (i.e., a direct federal subsidy is paid to the issuer) qualify for inclusion in the index, but “tax-credit” Build America Bonds (i.e., where the investor receives a tax credit on the interest payments) do not. Local bonds issued by U.S. territories within their jurisdictions that are tax exempt within the U.S. territory but not elsewhere are excluded from the Index. All 144a securities, both with and without registration rights, and securities in legal default are excluded from the Index. Index constituents are market capitalization weighted. Accrued interest is calculated assuming next-day settlement. Cash flows from bond payments that are received during the month are retained in the index until the end of the month and then are removed as part of the rebalancing. Cash does not earn any reinvestment income while it is held in the index.




また、当資料は、金融商品取引法、投資信託及び投資法人に関する法律または東京証券取引所が規定する上場に関する規則等に基づく開示書類または運用報告書ではありません。New York Life Investment Management Asia Limitedおよびその関係会社は、当資料に記載された情報について正確であることを表明または保証するものではありません。


当資料は、機密情報を含み、お客様のみに提供する目的で作成されています。New York Life Investment Management Asia Limitedによる事前の許可がない限り、当資料を配布、複製、転用することはできません。

New York Life Investment Management Asia Limited

金融商品取引業者 登録番号 関東財務局長(金商)第2964 号




About Risk

Municipal bond risks include the ability of the issuer to repay the obligation, the relative lack of information about certain issuers, and the possibility of future tax and legislative changes, which could affect the market for and value of municipal securities. Bonds subject to interest rate risk and can lose principal value when interest rates rise.  Bonds are also subject to credit risk which is the possibility that the bond issuer may fail to pay interest and principal in a timely manner.

Diversification cannot assure a profit or protect against loss in a declining market.

“New York Life Investments” is both a service mark, and the common trade name, of certain investment advisors affiliated with New York Life Insurance Company.