A Defense of Municipal Bonds in Light of Recent Volatility

Alan Appelbaum

February 17, 2023

Alan Appelbaum

thesttThere has always been a strong demand for municipal bonds among investors in search of income security and low risk. Yet, some investors wonder if these bonds are still a good option in light of the current market turmoil. Notwithstanding recent market volatility, we will argue that municipal bonds are still a good investment option.

First, you need to know municipal bonds and how they function. Municipal bonds are financial security issued by state and municipal governments to fund infrastructure and social services, including schools, highways, and hospitals. Lenders provide capital to these organizations in exchange for interest payments and the promise of principal repayment after the loan term.

Tax-free income

Municipal bonds are attractive because of their tax-exempt status. The federal government generally does not tax the interest paid on bonds, and certain states and municipalities may do the same. For this reason, they are very desirable among wealthy investors who wish to lessen their tax burden.

While municipal bonds provide tax benefits, they have not been safe from market fluctuations. In particular, the COVID-19 epidemic created a major disruption in the municipal bond market, as state and local governments struggled to meet their financial obligations in the face of decreased revenue.

Stable income

However, municipal bonds have shown remarkable strength in the face of these difficulties. According to a recent study from Moody’s Investors Service, municipal bond default rates remain low, and most issuers have been able to ride out the economic slump without defaulting on their commitments. Moody forecasts default rates to remain low in the next years, thanks partly to the federal government’s recent stimulus initiatives.

Municipal bonds can weather tough economic times because of the variety of issues available. Many issuers, from major states to local governments, make up the municipal bond market. In other words, investors can spread their risk by purchasing multiple municipal bonds from different issuers.

Tax-free growth

It’s also important to remember that it have consistently offered high rates of return. Since the beginning of this decade, it have outperformed fixed-income investments like Treasuries and corporate bonds, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays Municipal Bond Index. This history implies that municipal bonds have the potential to provide decent returns over the long term, though, of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Of course, no investment is without risk, and  are no exception. Some risks to consider include interest rate, credit risk, and liquidity risk. Rising interest rates pose a threat to bondholders since they can reduce the returns on their investments. Credit risk relates to the danger of default by the issuer, whereas liquidity risk refers to the possible difficulty of selling a bond when you want to.

Stable value

Do your homework and consult a financial professional who can assist you in constructing a diversified municipal bond portfolio to reduce your exposure to these dangers. You should remember that bonds are a long-term investment and that some volatility in the short term is to be anticipated.

In sum, some investors have begun to wonder if bonds are still a good investment option in light of the current market turbulence. Yet we think municipal bonds are an attractive option for investors seeking regular income and relative safety because of their resilience in the face of recent crises, tax advantages, diversification, and historical performance. A well-diversified portfolio that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance requires careful planning, investigation, and the assistance of a reliable advisor, just like any other investment does.