High Yield Roundtable: Credit’s no longer cheap

In May, Funds Europe’s parent company Camradata held a high yield roundtable that considered risk, ESG and investor searches. We reproduce it here.

High Yield

Christopher Kempton (Head of Emea client portfolio management, Credit Investments Group, Credit Suisse Asset Management)
Jakob von Kalckreuth (Managing director, European portfolio manager, Credit Suisse Asset Management)
Stephen Marsh (Vice president – fixed income, T. Rowe Price)
Willem Visser (Corporate analyst, T. Rowe Price)
Xavier Blaiteau (Senior associate, bfinance)
David Will (Senior manager, fund manager assessment, Scottish Widows)
Anja Needham (Portfolio manager, SECOR Asset Management)
Alice Lee (Senior manager researcher, WTW)

Credit is not cheap anymore. For a typical BBB company in the US, the cost – at time of writing – is about 220bps higher than 12 months ago in mid-May 2021. The Camradata Credit Roundtable 2022 began with the question of whether the era of ‘lower for longer’ is now over.

For Stephen Marsh, credit portfolio manager for T. Rowe Price, the answer is yes. He told the panel that both governments and central banks had done a huge amount of stimulus to ward off the worst effects of Covid. “We are now going through the hangover phase,” he said. “Central banks have been fixated on inflation, not just in food and energy but also wages. There are two jobs for every jobseeker in the US right now.”

Marsh said that there were two ways to go with financial repression: tax people more heavily or inflate your way out. “I don’t think anyone in the world wants the former.” At the same time, he felt that the rapidly emerging gap between inflation and the base rate was something the Federal Reserve wanted to control. Marsh gave a base-case estimate of 3.25% for the Fed’s terminal rate but reckoned it would have to be raised further to curb inflation, reaching close to 3.75% by late next year.

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