Quarterly Update

Jan. 2020

Gregory S. Kaplan, Director of Fixed Income, Managing Director | Jan. 2020

2020 Fixed Income Outlook

After a strong performance year in 2019, expect to earn the “coupon” in 2020

Accommodative monetary policy remain supportive of credit markets

Divergence in opportunistic sectors likely to create opportunity for active managers

After an exceptionally strong year for fixed income returns in 2019, it is only reasonable for investors to ask what comes next. Interestingly, many tailwinds from 2019 remain, but our return expectations are tempered as opportunities for price performance are more limited, and economic data are firm. Broadly speaking, we believe 2020 will be a year of earning your “coupon,” with little positive or negative price performance on bonds, but higher volatility.

The three “mid-cycle” rate cuts, the return to growth of the Fed’s balance sheet, and comments from the FOMC suggest that monetary policy will remain accommodative as the economy returns to trend-like growth near 2%. Short to intermediate rates should remain range bound while longer-term rates reflect firming of inflation expectations. With positive developments in the trade narrative, decent wage growth, and a clearer picture for Brexit, inflation expectations have already drifted higher. The secular forces that have kept inflation low are intact, and we don’t expect a breakout to the upside. Further, low but stable growth is supportive of the credit environment and will likely reward investors taking intelligent risks. This all suggests that fixed income investors should not fear duration and extend portfolios on market weakness (higher rates) while maintaining exposure to “quality” credit risk. Municipal markets are also likely to remain relatively attractive as 2019’s unprecedented demand continues into 2020 unabated.

Within opportunistic sectors, we are starting to see divergence as late-cycle forces stress the lower tiers of the high-yield markets. Any miss in growth targets domestically or abroad could trigger credit spreads to revert closer toward their longer-term averages and hurt valuations. Volatility may create opportunity as valuations move away from fundamentals but also challenge returns. Specifically, we are de-emphasizing the U.S. loan market while favoring the upper tiers of mezzanine CLOs. Within this space, we also prefer European structures where covenants are healthier and the risk/return balance more attractive.

At the asset allocation level, we continue to overweight opportunistic sectors and underweight lower-yielding core fixed income while carefully managing late cycle risk.

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Key Points

After a strong performance year in 2019, expect to earn the “coupon” in 2020

Accommodative monetary policy remain supportive of credit markets

Divergence in opportunistic sectors likely to create opportunity for active managers

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Any opinions, projections, forecasts, and forward-looking statements presented herein are valid as of the date of this document and are subject to change.

The information presented does not involve the rendering of personalized investment, financial, legal, or tax advice. This presentation is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of any offer to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned herein.

Certain statements contained herein may constitute projections, forecasts, and other forward-looking statements, which do not reflect actual results and are based primarily upon a hypothetical set of assumptions applied to certain historical financial information. Certain information has been provided by third-party sources and, although believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified and its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed.

Any opinions, projections, forecasts, and forward-looking statements presented herein are valid as on the date of this document and are subject to change.

Concentrating assets in a particular industry, sector of the economy, or markets may increase volatility because the investment will be more susceptible to the impact of market, economic, regulatory, and other factors affecting that industry or sector compared with a more broadly diversified asset allocation.

Private investments often engage in leveraging and other speculative investment practices that may increase the risk of investment loss, can be highly illiquid, are not required to provide periodic pricing or valuation information to investors, and may involve complex tax structures and delays in distributing important tax information.

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There are inherent risks with equity investing. These risks include, but are not limited to, stock market, manager, or investment style. Stock markets tend to move in cycles, with periods of rising prices and periods of falling prices. Investing in international markets carries risks such as currency fluctuation, regulatory risks, and economic and political instability. Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors, as well as increased volatility, lower trading volume, and less liquidity. Emerging markets can have greater custodial and operational risks and less developed legal and accounting systems than developed markets.

There are inherent risks with fixed-income investing. These risks may include interest rate, call, credit, market, inflation, government policy, liquidity, or junk bond. When interest rates rise, bond prices fall. This risk is heightened with investments in longer-duration fixed-income securities and during periods when prevailing interest rates are low or negative. The yields and market values of municipal securities may be more affected by changes in tax rates and policies than similar income-bearing taxable securities. Certain investors’ incomes may be subject to the Federal Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and taxable gains are also possible. Investments in below-investment-grade debt securities, which are usually called “high yield” or “junk bonds,” are typically in weaker financial health and such securities can be harder to value and sell, and their prices can be more volatile than more highly rated securities. While these securities generally have higher rates of interest, they also involve greater risk of default than do securities of a higher-quality rating.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest. As with any investment strategy, there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be met and investors may lose money. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Index Definitions

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) is a market capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stocks chosen for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation to represent U.S. equity performance.

The Standard & Poor’s Small Cap 600 Index (S&P 600) measures the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity market. The index is designed to track companies that meet specific inclusion criteria to ensure that they are liquid and financially viable.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) composite is a market composite made up of all the A shares and B shares that trade on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The Dow Jones Select Dividend Index seeks to represent the top 100 U.S. stocks by dividend yield. The index is derived from the Dow Jones U.S. Index and generally consists of 100 dividend-paying stocks that have five-year non-negative Dividend Growth, five-year Dividend Payout Ratio of 60% or less, and three-month average daily trading volume of at least 200,000 shares.

Nasdaq 100 Index is an index composed of the 100 largest, most actively traded U.S. companies listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

MSCI Emerging Markets Asia Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure equity market performance in the Asian emerging markets.

The MSCI EAFE Index (Europe, Australasia, Far East) is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets, excluding the U.S. & Canada. As of June 2007, the MSCI EAFE Index consisted of the following 21 developed market country indices: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The MSCI Europe Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure developed market equity performance in Europe. As of September 2002, the MSCI Europe Index consisted of the following 16 developed market country indices: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The S&P U.S. Treasury Bond Current 10-Year Index is a one-security index comprising the most recently issued 10-year U.S. Treasury note or bond.

S&P Leveraged Loan Indexes (S&P LL indexes) are capitalization-weighted syndicated loan indexes based upon market weightings, spreads, and interest payments. The S&P/LSTA Leveraged Loan 100 Index (LL100) dates back to 2002 and is a daily tradable index for the U.S. market that seeks to mirror the market-weighted performance of the largest institutional leveraged loans, as determined by criteria. Its ticker on Bloomberg is SPBDLLB.

The Barclays High Yield Municipal Index covers the high yield portion of the U.S.-dollar-denominated long-term tax-exempt bond market. The index has four main sectors: state and local general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, insured bonds, and pre-refunded bonds.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Index is an unmanaged, U.S.-dollar-denominated, nonconvertible, non-investment-grade debt index. The index consists of domestic and corporate bonds rated Ba and below with a minimum outstanding amount of $150 million.

The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is composed of U.S. government, mortgage-backed, asset-backed, and corporate fixed income securities with maturities of one year or more.

The Corporate Emerging Market Bond Index (CEMBI) is J.P. Morgan’s index of U.S.-dollar-denominated debt issued by emerging market corporations.

Brent Crude is a major trading classification of sweet light crude oil that serves as a major benchmark price for purchases of oil worldwide. This grade is described as light because of its relatively low density, and sweet because of its sulfur content.

The Bloomberg Commodity Total Return Index, formerly known as Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total Return (DJUBSTR), is composed of futures contracts and reflects the returns on a fully collateralized investment in the BCOM. This combines the returns of the BCOM with the returns on cash collateral invested in 13-week (three-month) U.S. Treasury Bills.

Indices are unmanaged and one cannot invest directly in an index.

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