Josh Anderson: On March 23rd, the Fed and Treasury announced a series of measures to support financial markets after the dislocation arising from COVID 19.
Many of these initiatives were new iterations of programs implemented during the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis.
One example of this was the TALF program, one of the more impactful programs from the Fed and treasury, aimed at promoting credit availability in consumer, commercial mortgage and certain corporate markets.
This program was initially rolled out in March, focusing primarily on Consumer ABS. They've since expanded it to commercial real estate CMBS and then a little bit to corporate CLOs as well. They have not yet expanded to the RMBS sector, and we think there's a better than 50% probability they do expand this program because parts of the mortgage market are under pressure. And self-employed borrowers, as an example, are having trouble getting mortgages. So expanding TALF into the residential mortgage market would help some of those borrowers.
At the time of the announcement, spreads in these markets were under significant pressure due to forced deleveraging from a variety of levered market participants, primarily REITs and certain hedge funds.
Similar to TALF 1.0,
Since being rolled out, structured credit markets have stabilized and spreads have rebounded from the wides in March. 3-year AAA ABS are roughly 100 bps+ tighter from the wides, but remain 50-100 wider from pre-Covid levels.
Non TALF eligible assets are underperforming relative to TALF eligible assets. But clearly this program has helped overall sentiment across the structures credit markets.
In general, we believe the fundamentals in this market to be quite solid relative to the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis. TALF’s announcement has provided support to many of these asset classes already and we believe they will remain well supported by demand for high quality spread.
Program details remain fluid and our view on the impact of the program could change if it expanded into residential mortgages, or even expanded its coverage of CMBS, CLO and other ABS sectors.
Similar to the last cycle, PIMCO expects to be a leading participant in this market, particularly given our understanding of many of the underlying asset classes.
While there will likely be attractive opportunities to invest in TALF-eligible assets, we generally believe TALF is better as part of a broader mandate versus a standalone strategy.
Identifying bonds with the potential for spread compression may be key to maximizing returns, as levered yields alone are unlikely to be as compelling as many initially expected.
Patience is key in the corporate market as this is where we expect more downgrades, credit events and technical pressures.
Unless mortgages are added to the TALF program, we expect the program to be relatively small and a broader opportunity set, including CLOs, bank loans and fallen angels in the high yield market, may offer a better risk adjusted return or a broader opportunity set.
Past performance is not a guarantee or a reliable indicator of future results.
All investments contain risk and may lose value. Investing in the bond market is subject to risks, including market, interest rate, issuer, credit, inflation risk, and liquidity risk. The value of most bonds and bond strategies are impacted by changes in interest rates. Bonds and bond strategies with longer durations tend to be more sensitive and volatile than those with shorter durations; bond prices generally fall as interest rates rise, and low interest rate environments increase this risk. Reductions in bond counterparty capacity may contribute to decreased market liquidity and increased price volatility. Bond investments may be worth more or less than the original cost when redeemed. There is no guarantee that these investment strategies will work under all market conditions or are suitable for all investors and each investor should evaluate their ability to invest long-term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should consult their investment professional prior to making an investment decision.
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