Thoughts from our Domestic Equity and Fixed Income Teams
In August 2011, the U.S. sovereign debt rating was downgraded to AA by Standard and Poor’s and the debt ceiling was raised on the very day that the U.S. Treasury predicted it would begin to miss certain payments—that is, at the last possible moment to avert a technical default. Somewhat paradoxically, investors responded to the threat of default by fleeing to the perceived safety of U.S. Treasury securities. We expect a similar reaction should the debt ceiling debate once again drive the U.S. to the brink of default in October.
Why would investors see U.S. treasuries as “safe” upon a U.S. default? We think there are two key reasons why this reaction may occur: (1) There is more to the U.S. than just the partisan politics of Washington D.C. The world believes that the U.S. has the resources to make timely payment of principal and interest on its Federal debt. So while payments could be delayed due to political squabbles—and even this may be unlikely given the high priority placed on debt service relative to other required disbursements—bond holders likely have little doubt that they will receive the expected return on their investment in U.S debt; and (2) even in default U.S. Treasuries can maintain their attractiveness relative to many alternative investment vehicles (such as emerging markets), although some investors may look to alternative investment areas such as in Germany or Japan. Of course, such a default would be unprecedented and while we would expect mainly temporary repercussions, it is impossible to predict how the markets would react. From our perspective, taking a longer-term view, we would not expect to make significant changes to our pre-existing investment convictions reflected in our portfolios.
Submitted by: Jason Benowitz, CFA and Howard Potter, Senior Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
This information is intended solely to report on investment strategies and opportunities identified by Roosevelt. Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as, recommendations to purchase or sell such securities. Please contact us at 646-452-6700 if there is any change in your financial situation, needs, goals or objectives, or if you wish to initiate any restrictions on the management of the account or modify existing restrictions, or if you would like to request a copy of our Code of Ethics. Our current disclosure statement is set forth on our Form ADV Part II, available for your review upon request, and on our website, www.rooseveltinvestments.com.