New Year’s Resolutions for High-Income Investors

First, the bad news: high-income investors should saddle up for another bumpy ride in 2019. Now the good: with challenges come opportunities—and we see plenty on the horizon for investors who take the long view.

We expect global growth to slow next year, inflation to rise, and tight market liquidity to get even tighter. That won’t come as a big surprise to most investors. After several years of expansion, large economies such as the US and China are moving into the later stages of the credit cycle, and global interest rates are rising. That adds up to more volatility ahead.

Seeing the big picture in conditions like these isn’t easy. When markets are volatile, it can be tempting to pull your money out at the latest bit of bad news. But for most investors, abandoning a high-income strategy simply isn’t a viable option.

So, how can investors make the most of next year’s opportunities? We recommend the following New Year’s resolutions:

Resolution No. 1: Make the World Your Investment Universe

In 2018, the most attractive opportunities were concentrated in the US. That’s because US assets benefited from a booming US economy and strong corporate earnings. Elsewhere, growth was less robust, and rising interest rates and a stronger US dollar put pressure on many non-US assets, including emerging-market (EM) bonds and currencies.

This type of divergence is unusual, though, and we’re not betting on a repeat performance in 2019. After having struggled this year, many non-US credit assets are attractively valued today. European high-yield bonds, for example, now offer more value than their US counterparts (Display).

European high yield also stands to benefit from looser monetary conditions. The European Central Bank will likely end emergency asset purchases this year, but it isn’t likely to start raising interest rates until late in 2019. In particular, we see value in subordinated European financial bonds, which offer attractive yields to compensate investors for the risk they’re taking by buying a bond that’s further down the capital structure.