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The January issue of Crane Data's Bond Fund Intelligence, which was sent out to subscribers Monday, features the lead story, "BFI Turns 2; Top Stories & Funds in '16; Outlook for '17," which reviews the top stories and funds of 2016, and it features the profile, "Invesco's Tony Wong Talks Credit, Bond Fund Lineup," an interview with Invesco Fixed Income's Head of Global Credit Research & Liquidity. Also, we recap the latest Bond Fund News, including yield increases in December and a rebound in flows in late December and January. BFI also includes our Crane BFI Indexes, which showed increases in December. We excerpt from the latest BFI below. (Watch for more excerpts from our Invesco profile later this month on www.cranedata.com, and contact us if you'd like to see a copy of our latest Bond Fund Intelligence and BFI XLS.)
Our lead Bond Fund Intelligence story says, "Bond Fund Intelligence officially launched two years ago, and our monthly newsletter on bond mutual funds continues to expand its coverage and content While our initial focus was, and continues to be, on ultra-short and short-term bond funds, we've expanded our news and performance tracking to include the entire spectrum of fixed-income funds. Below, we review BFI's mission, the major events and top-performers of the past year, and the outlook for 2017."
It continues, "BFI's mission is to bring affordable and comprehensive news and statistics coverage to the bond fund investment community. In our first issue, we began tracking about 200 bond funds, but by December 2015 we were tracking 359 funds, totaling $1.663 trillion in assets -- about half the market. Over the past year, we've grown our collection to 489 funds and $2.096 trillion in assets. We'll continue to gradually add funds, refine and expand our collection of data points, and move towards launching a database and daily product in the coming year. We'll also launch our first Crane's Bond Fund Symposium, March 23-24, 2017, in Boston."
BFI's Invesco Profile says, "This month, Bond Fund Intelligence interviews Tony Wong, Invesco's Head of Global Credit Research & Liquidity. Invesco manages over $201.7 billion in bond fund assets and another $78.3 billion in money markets. We ask Wong about the manager's latest challenges and strategies, and he explains why recent concerns over the bond market are overstated. Our Q&A follows."
The profile asks about Invesco's history, and Wong responds, "We've been in the U.S. bond mutual fund business since the '70's and liquidity since the '80's. As a global fixed income house, we have a broad range of asset class solutions and capabilities for both institutional and retail markets.... Personally I've been with the firm for 20 years now. I started as a research analyst ... and eventually moved into my current role of overseeing our global credit research platform as well as business oversight of our global liquidity franchise."
A Bond Fund News brief entitled, "Bond Fund Returns Rebound in December; Yields Rise on Fed Hike," explains, "Returns rose across most of the Crane BFI Indexes. Our BFI Total Index averaged a 1-month return of 0.51% and gained 3.71% in 2016. The BFI 100 had a return of 0.50% in Dec. and rose 4.55% for the year. The BFI Conservative Ultra-Short Index returned 0.07% and was up 1.09% in '16; the BFI Ultra-Short Index had a 1-month return of 0.14% and 1.37% for the year. Our BFI Short-Term Index returned 1.80% and 2.41% for the month and year. The BFI High Yield Index increased 1.56% in Dec. and is up 12.19% in 2016. (See p. 8+ or BFI XLS for more return data.)"
Another brief, entitled, "WSJ on Active vs. Passive & Fee Cuts," explains, "`The Wall Street Journal writes, "Investors Leave Active Funds Despite Fee Cuts." It says, "Those stock and bond pickers that cut mutual-fund fees most aggressively in 2016 are the ones that continue to lose clients to lower-cost rivals. The average asset-weighted fee for actively managed stock mutual funds fell by 4.8% in 2016 ... according to Morningstar. Meanwhile the average asset-weighted fee for actively managed bond funds fell more than 6%."
Yet another brief comments, "Bank of America Merrill Lynch Strategist Hans Mikkelsen writes, "The return of bond inflows. Last week (ending on January 4th) saw the first inflow to rate-sensitive fixed-income funds and ETFs since the US election. Flows follow returns, and the jump higher in interest rates following the elections in November has generated seven consecutive weeks of outflow from fixed income.... Similarly, the decline in interest rates from the peak reached in mid-December has allowed for inflows to return this past week."
A sidebar entitled, "World Bond Funds Up in Q3," tells us, "The U.S., by far the world's largest bond fund market, and the others in the five largest markets -- Luxembourg, Brazil, Germany and Ireland -- all showed gains in the latest quarter (Q3'16) according to the Investment Company Institute's "Worldwide Open-End Fund Assets and Flows, Third Quarter 2016." ICI's report shows worldwide bond fund assets increased $402.7 billion, or 4.6%, to $9.210 trillion in the third quarter. Bond funds represent 22.5% of the $40.85 trillion in worldwide mutual fund assets. Globally, bond funds posted inflow of $281 billion in Q3 of 2016, after inflows of $147B in Q2 and $80 billion in Q1'16."
It adds, "According to Crane Data's analysis of ICI data, the U.S. had $4.166 trillion in bond fund assets as of Sept. 30, 2016, representing 45.2% of the worldwide market. US bond fund assets were up $134.5.7 billion in the quarter, or 3.3%. Luxembourg remained the second largest bond fund market with $1.262 trillion, or 13.7%, after a $63.1 billion, or 5.3% jump. Brazil remained in third place with $598.8 billion, or 6.5% of worldwide bond fund assets. Germany ranked fourth with $562.8 billion, or 5.7%. Ireland remained in 5th place with $458.3 billion, or 5.0%. (Luxembourg and Ireland are the most popular domiciles for funds marketed across Europe.)"
Finally, Bond Fund Intelligence features the "Top Performers for 2016," stating, "The table below lists the No.-1 performing bond funds based on total return for through 12/31/16 in each of our 7 bond fund categories. Federated Ultra Short Bond Inst (FULIX) was the top-performing fund in our Conservative Ultra-Short category, Fidelity New Markets Income Fund (FNMIX) won in the Global category, AllianceBernstein High Income A (AGDAX) returned the most in our High Yield category, PIMCO Income Inst (PIMIX) was No. 1 among IntmTerm BFs, PIMCO Long-Term Credit Inst (PTCIX) was No. 1 among Long Term Bond Funds, Oppenheimer Ro High Yield Muni A (ORNAX) was No. 1 among Muni Bond Funds, Eaton Vance Short Dur Strategic Inc I (ESIIX) was No. 1 among Short Term BFs, and BBH Limited Duration I (BBBIX) placed first among Ultra-Short Bond Funds. Congratulations to the winners! Note that we continue to tweak our collections and categorizations, so watch for more changes in 2017."
Below, we reprint the article, "Top Money Funds of 2016; 8th Annual MFI Awards," from the January edition of our Money Fund Intelligence.... In this issue, we recognizes the top‐performing money funds, ranked by total returns, for calendar year 2016, as well as the top ranked funds for the past 5‐year and 10‐year periods. We present the funds below with our annual Money Fund Intelligence Awards. These include the No. 1‐ranked funds based on 1‐year, 5‐year and 10‐year returns, through Dec. 31, 2016, in each of our major fund categories -- Prime Institutional, Government Institutional, Treasury Institutional, Prime Retail, Government Retail, Treasury Retail and Tax‐Exempt. (Note: We've posted the latest versions of our "Funds" and "Portfolio Holdings" data files from the SEC's Form N-MFP data series here. Our normal January Money Fund Portfolio Holdings will also be released later today.)
The Top-Performing Taxable fund overall in 2016 and top among Prime Institutional funds was Deutsche Variable NAV MM Cap (VNVXX), which returned 0.68%. The Top Prime Inst fund over $100 million (and unrestricted) was Western Asset Inst Liquid Res Inst (CILXX), which returned 0.55%. Among Prime Retail funds, Vanguard Prime MMF Adm (VMRXX) had the best returns in 2016 (0.55%).
The Top‐Performing Government Institutional fund in 2016 was Oppenheimer Inst Govt MM E (IOEXX), which returned 0.40%. Vanguard Federal Money Mkt Fund (VMFXX) was the Top Government Retail fund over a 1‐year period with a return of 0.30%. BlackRock Cash Treas MMF SL (BRC03) ranked No. 1 in the Treasury Institutional class with a return of 0.30%. Western Asset Inst US Treas Obl MMF Inst (LUIXX) was the top-performing unrestricted fund with a return of 0.28%. Federated Trust for US Treas Obl IS (TTOXX) was No. 1 among Treasury Retail funds, returning 0.21%.
Top Funds over Past Five Years. For the 5-year period through Dec. 31, 2016, Deutsche Variable NAV MM Cap (VNVXX) took top honors for the best performing Prime Institutional money fund with returns of 0.33%. (BlackRock Cash Inst MMF Inst was No. 2.) Fidelity Inv MM: MM Port Inst (FNSXX) ranked No. 1 among Prime Retail with an annualized return of 0.22%.
Oppenheimer Inst Govt MM E (IOEXX) ranked No. 1 among Govt Institutional funds with a return of 0.19%, while Vanguard Federal Money Mkt Fund (VMFXX) ranked No. 1 among Govt Retail funds over the past 5 years with a return of 0.08%. BlackRock Cash Treas MMF SL (BRC03) ranked No. 1 in 5‐year performance among Treasury Inst money funds with a return of 0.08% (Morgan Stanley Inst Liq Treas Inst ranked first among unrestricted funds at 0.07%), and Invesco Treas Obligations Reserve (AIM45) ranked No. 1 among Treasury Retail funds with a return of 0.07%.
Best Money Funds of the Decade. The highest‐performers of the past 10 years include: BlackRock Cash Inst MMF Inst (BGIXX), which returned 1.05% (No. 1 among Prime Inst MMFs); Fidelity Inv MM: MM Port Inst (FNSXX), which returned 1.06% (best among Prime Retail); Oppenheimer Inst Govt MM L (IOLXX), which returned 1.04%, (No. 1 among Govt Inst funds); and Fidelity MMT: Retire Govt MMP II (FRTXX), which ranked No. 1 among Govt Retail funds (0.87%). Invesco Treas Obligations Institutional (TSPXX) and Vanguard Treasury Money Market (VUSXX) returned the most among Treasury Inst funds over the past 10 years at 0.77%; and, Invesco Treas Obligations Private (TXPXX) ranked No. 1 among Treasury Retail MMFs at 0.70%.
Top Tax‐Exempt Funds. We're also giving out awards for the best‐performing Tax‐Exempt money funds. Dreyfus Municipal Cash Mg Pls Ins (DIMXX) ranked No. 1 for the 1‐year period ended Dec. 31, 2016, with a return of 0.55%. Over the last 5 years, BMO Tax Free MMF Premier (MFIXX) was the top performer with a return of 0.15%. BMO Tax Free MMF Premier also was the top‐ranked fund for the 10‐year period with a return of 0.85%.
See the MFI Award Winner listings in `MFI, and see our latest Money Fund Intelligence XLS for more detailed rankings. Winners will receive a letter and certificate stating their No. 1 ranking, the number of funds in their category, and the criteria used. The tables in MFI below show the No. 1 ranked money fund for each category based on 1‐year, 5‐year, and 10‐year annualized total returns.
The January issue of our flagship Money Fund Intelligence newsletter, which was sent to subscribers Monday morning, features the articles: "Money Fund Highlights of '16; Higher Yields The Story in '17," which reviews the top stories of 2016; "AB's Ed Dombrowski on Growing Govt MMFs," which profiles the Portfolio Manager of the AB Government Money Market Portfolio; and "Top Money Funds of 2016; 8th Annual MFI Awards," which looks at the top-performing money funds of 2016. We have updated our Money Fund Wisdom database query system with Dec. 31, 2016, performance statistics, and also sent out our MFI XLS spreadsheet Monday a.m. (MFI, MFI XLS and our Crane Index products are all available to subscribers via our Content center.) Our January Money Fund Portfolio Holdings are scheduled to ship Wednesday, Dec. 11, and our Dec. Bond Fund Intelligence is scheduled to go out Tuesday, Jan. 17.
MFI's lead "Money Fund Highlights of '16" article says, "In 2016, we witnessed historic changes to money market mutual funds. Money Fund Reforms went live in October, and prior to this date we witnessed a $1 trillion-plus shift from Prime to Government funds. This "big sort" drove lineup changes, liquidations, and consolidation last year, but amazingly overall asset levels remained flat for their fifth straight year. Below, we take a look back at the highlights of 2016, and we also give a brief outlook for 2017."
It adds, "The unprecedented changes were driven by provider and investor fears of gates and fees, and flows in 2016 were driven by sweep providers converting funds and institutional investors fleeing Prime to "go Government." We show monthly asset levels and yields in the chart on page 1. In the coming year, however, higher rates, the acceptance of prime money fund alternatives and investors' potential return to Prime look to be the big stories." (See also, Crane Data's Dec. 28 News, "Top 10 Stories of 2016: Prime to Govie Shift, Reforms Go Live, Changes.")
Our latest fund "profile" interview reads, "This month, Money Fund Intelligence interviews AB Government Money Market Portfolio Vice President & Portfolio Manager Ed Dombrowski. AB, the former AllianceBernstein, whose motto is "Ahead of Tomorrow," has been rebranding and focusing on expanding their money market fund presence by courting the "portal" and institutional marketplace, among other things. Our Q&A follows."
MFI asks, "Tell us a little bit about your history." Dombrowski answers, "We have a long history, nearly 40 years, in the money fund business. The first fund started in July 1978. Alliance Capital was a top 15 sponsor in the 90's and early 2000's. In 2005, the firm sold its money fund business to Federated. From 2005-2013, we refocused our efforts to efficiently manage internal cash, and one of the results of that was creating our Government Money Market Portfolio (formerly Government STIF Portfolio). I came to AB in 2001, and joined its cash management team in 2004. I spent some time in different areas on the cash management desk before becoming a portfolio manager, running three 2a-7 registered government funds, as well as separate accounts."
Our "Top Money Funds of 2016" article explains, "In this issue, we recognize the top‐performing money funds, ranked by total returns, for calendar year 2016, as well as the top ranked funds for the past 5-year and 10-year periods. We present the funds below with our annual Money Fund Intelligence Awards. These include the No. 1-ranked funds based on 1-year, 5-year and 10-year returns, through Dec. 31, 2016, in each of our major fund categories -- Prime Institutional, Government Institutional, Treasury Institutional, Prime Retail, Government Retail, Treasury Retail and Tax‐Exempt."
The article continues, "The Top-Performing Taxable fund overall in 2016 and top among Prime Institutional funds was Deutsche Variable NAV MM Cap (VNVXX), which returned 0.68%. The Top Prime Inst fund over $100 million (and unrestricted) was Western Asset Inst Liquid Res Inst (CILXX), which returned 0.55%. Among Prime Retail funds, Vanguard Prime MMF Adm (VMRXX) had the best returns in 2016 (0.55%)."
In a sidebar, we discuss, "Worldwide MF Assets: Lux, China, France, India Gain," saying, "The Investment Company Institute released its "Worldwide Regulated Open-End Fund Assets and Flows Third Quarter 2016" earlier this week. The latest data collection on mutual funds in other countries (as well as the U.S.) shows that money fund assets globally rose by $56.3 billion, or 1.1% in Q3'16, led by increases in Luxembourg, China, France and India. MMF assets worldwide have risen by $220.4 billion, or 4.6%, the past 12 months. China, Brazil, Luxembourg, France, Ireland and India showed the biggest asset increases in the past 12 months through Sept. 30, 2016. The U.S., Ireland, Brazil and Japan showed the largest declines in Q3, while Japan, Mexico and Sweden posted the largest declines over the past year."
We also do a sidebar, entitled, "MFI Adding Internal MFs." It comments, "Since the SEC began disclosure of its Form N-MFP filings without a 2-month lag in April 2016, we've been parsing and integrating this new trove of data into our existing collections and products. This month, we've added a big batch (10) of private and internal money market funds to our listings. We've been offering the full N-MFP fund listings in our "fundsnmfp" file (available via our "Content" center) for months now, but now we've begun integrating many of the previously non-public money funds. We list the 15 largest of these internal and private money funds below. They total $219.7 billion, with 10 Prime funds totaling $178.3B. Note that we've added $110.3B of these assets (the funds in bold) this month."
Our January MFI XLS, with Dec. 31, 2016, data, shows total assets increased $115.1 billion in December to $2.761 trillion (this includes the addition of $110.3 billion in new funds) after increasing $32.1 billion in November, and decreasing $3.1 billion in October and $48.5 billion in September. Our broad Crane Money Fund Average 7-Day Yield was up 9 bps to 0.26% for the month, while our Crane 100 Money Fund Index (the 100 largest taxable funds) rose 13 bps to 0.43% (7-day).
On a Gross Yield Basis (before expenses were taken out), the Crane MFA rose 0.11% to 0.61% and the Crane 100 rose 14 bps to 0.68%. Charged Expenses averaged 0.35% and 0.25% for the Crane MFA and Crane 100, respectively (unchanged). The average WAM (weighted average maturity) for the Crane MFA was 36 days (up 1 day from last month) and for the Crane 100 was 37 days (up 1 day). (See our Crane Index or craneindexes.xlsx history file for more on our averages.)
The December issue of our flagship Money Fund Intelligence newsletter, which was sent to subscribers Wednesday morning, features the articles: "Prime, Tax-Ex Assets Bottom; Rising Rates Returning Cash?" which reviews the latest yields, flow data and fund changes; "SSGA's Butler & McCusker on Cash Investing Post Reform," which profiles Yeng Felipe Butler and Pia McCusker on State Street's latest thinking; and "European Money Fund Regs Passed, But Details Murky," which looks at the EU's new money fund reforms. We have updated our Money Fund Wisdom database query system with Nov. 30, 2016, performance statistics, and also sent out our MFI XLS spreadsheet Wednesday a.m. (MFI, MFI XLS and our Crane Index products are all available to subscribers via our Content center.) Our December Money Fund Portfolio Holdings are scheduled to ship Friday, Dec. 9, and our Dec. Bond Fund Intelligence is scheduled to go out Wednesday, Dec. 14.
MFI's lead "Prime, T-E MMFs Stabilize" article says, "Prime money market fund assets, which slid $1.1 trillion, or 75% in the 52 weeks through the end of October, have been flat at around $375 billion for 5 weeks straight. Tax-exempt MMF assets too have seen outflows subside, as both savaged segments of the money fund world catch a breather and await a likely Fed hike next week. The return of Prime and the development of alternatives like conservative ultra-short bond funds depends heavily on growing spreads between these and Government products."
It adds, "While it's been a very rough year for Prime, the New Year looks a lot brighter. Yields have already risen slightly in recent weeks. Our Crane 100 Money Fund Index, the average yield of the 100 largest taxable MMFs, is up 2 basis points in November (to 0.30%) and another one in December month-to-date. If, as expected, the Fed moves its target funds rate to a range of 0.5-075% next week, money fund rates will quickly follow."
Our latest fund "profile" interview reads, "This month, Money Fund Intelligence interviews State Street Global Advisors' Senior Managing Directors and Global Heads of Cash Management Yeng Felipe Butler and Pia McCusker. We discuss a number of topics, including finding the right mix of liquidity and return for clients in the new post-reform money fund environment."
The article asks, "How long has State Street Global Advisors been involved in running cash and money market funds?" Butler tells us, "State Street Global Advisors has been managing client cash for nearly four decades. We launched our first prime money market fund in 1988 and have continued to bring new cash solutions to our clients over the years. Today, we provide commingled and tailored solutions to institutional clients around the world through our money market funds, separately managed accounts, cash ETFs, and ultra-short term bond funds."
Our "European Money Fund Regs" article explains, "The European Union agreed to a new set of money market fund regulations recently, which will introduce a hybrid of stable and variable NAV money funds in Europe. The European Parliament's release entitled, "Money Market Funds: breakthrough agreement between MEPs and Slovak Presidency," says, "An agreement on the EU money market funds regulation has been struck by the European Parliament, Council and Commission, after lengthy negotiations, more than three years after the Commission published the original proposal."
It adds, "U.K. Rapporteur Neena Gill comments, "This is one of the most contentious and complex pieces of legislation that has been held up for more than three years. I am delighted we have an overall agreement between Parliament and the Council. I believe this is a win-win deal for both major European MMF sectors, variable and constant net asset value MMFs (VNAVs and CNAVs) respectively."
In a sidebar, we discuss, "Wells and RBC on SIFMA," saying, "Wells Fargo Securities' Garret Sloan writes, "After taking a wild ride over the past few months, the SIFMA 7-day index appears to be finding an equilibrium level in the mid-50s. In December, the index remained relatively uncorrelated with the movement of the Fed funds rate, remaining pinned at 1 basis point for another three months before moving in response to tax-related outflows in March. Previous rate cycles have seen SIFMA move more quickly, though not in a 1-for-1 relationship."
We also do a sidebar, entitled, "JPM: 2017 Outlook Uncertain," which comments, "J.P. Morgan Securities' writes in a new "Short-Term Fixed Income 2017 Outlook" about life after Prime. They tell us, "Normally, these year-ahead outlooks are focused on the future.... Yet as we write this in November 2016, our forecasts are clouded with a level of uncertainty, not only because of the outcome of the US elections but also because there's been a significant transformation in the money markets this past year, leaving many to wonder just how liquidity investors and issuers will behave in the new world absent the large presence of prime MMFs."
Our December MFI XLS, with Nov. 30, 2016, data, shows total assets increased $32.1 billion in November to $2.646 trillion after decreasing $3.1 billion in October and $48.5 billion in September, and increasing $19.3 billion in August and $11.6 billion in July. Our broad Crane Money Fund Average 7-Day Yield was up 1 bps to 0.16% for the month, while our Crane 100 Money Fund Index (the 100 largest taxable funds) rose 2 bps to 0.30% (7-day).
On a Gross Yield Basis (before expenses were taken out), the Crane MFA inched up to 0.50% and the Crane 100 rose 3 bps to 0.55%. Charged Expenses averaged 0.33% and 0.25% for the Crane MFA and Crane 100, respectively (unchanged). The average WAM (weighted average maturity) for the Crane MFA was 35 days (up 1 day from last month) and for the Crane 100 was 36 days (up 1 day). (See our Crane Index or craneindexes.xlsx history file for more on our averages.)