Washington’s off-again, on-again debate about the tax exemption of municipal bonds appears to be off again as lawmakers grapple with budget and debt issues. Proposals to change the tax treatment of municipal bonds could resurface again during the congressional elections in late 2014.
Since January, much of the talk from the political class has revolved around sequestration, the other half of the fiscal cliff that mandated 2% across-the-board spending cuts. While the political rhetoric associated with those cuts often has painted them as catastrophic, we believe the fallout for most states is likely to be fairly benign. The
We believe municipal bond investments are potentially quite attractive: Defaults have remained low, contrary to overblown predictions in the media; spreads are attractive on a historical basis; and muni/Treasury ratios are still above historical averages. Defaults in the municipal bond market are generally misunderstood. While defaults do happen, they occur with far less frequency than
The classic strategic reasons to own municipal bonds still hold true: They generally have low correlations to other asset classes and offer a meaningful tax advantage to investors — features that we believe are unlikely to change in the near term. However, the municipal bond market has experienced a significant shift over the past several