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Fixed-Income Insights

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Zane Brown outlines three broad areas that could create investment opportunities for fixed-income investors in 2014. 

Transcript

Narrator: This is Lord Abbett's Investment Perspectives featuring Zane Brown, Partner and Fixed Income Strategist for Lord Abbett.

Mike Weldon: This is Mike Weldon, Partner and Director of Marketing at Lord Abbett. Joining me today is Zane Brown, Partner and Fixed Income Strategist. Zane, you've outlined three trends to watch for in 2014. Give us an overview of what those are.

Zane Brown: Yeah, well there are three broad areas that we think are going to create investment opportunities in 2014. One is monetary policy, (and by that, I mean global monetary policy), the opportunity for structural reforms that seem to characterize most developed economies, and then finally, the resolution of the multiple crises that are currently in existence in the Middle East. And those three areas we think are really going to shape investment opportunities in 2014.

Mike Weldon: Okay, a lot of ground to cover. Let's start with number one, the global monetary policy. You know post-crisis 2008, it seems like everyone was on the same page, sort of this global coordinated effort to save the economy. Is that still the case and where are the biggest countries headed in terms of monetary policy?

Zane Brown: Well certainly, that is sort of the case. I mean we've gone now from a synchronized accommodation among all major economies in not only 2013, but '11 and '12 and now, all of a sudden, we have at least the largest economy, the U.S. economy kind of headed in a different direction. The Fed has adopted tapering and I think we largely are pretty comfortable with what the outcomes of that process are going to be.

We're going to have, eventually, slightly higher rates gradually rising over 2014 in longer maturities as new buyers are found for what the Fed is currently buying. And at the same time, they're going to anchor the short end at zero and they've said they're going to do that for a fairly long process now. So that means: (1) we're going to have a steeper yield curve. There will be some protection there for afforded shorter term maturities in fixed-income investments. And also, since this is contingent on a stronger economy, credit sensitive investments or things like below investment grade and maybe BBB and single A, the lower quality tiers of investment grade bonds, those too are going to be more credit sensitive and they should also do pretty well.

But what's a little less obvious is how this shift in monetary policy in the U.S. affects other investment opportunities and while we have Japan and the Eurozone all continuing to follow policies of accommodation now you've got this conflict that is going to create opportunities. One thing it's going to create is probably some strength in the dollar; and as Japan, for instance, follows an opposite policy and wants to continue to weaken the yen there will be some interesting opportunities in exporters in Japan. You might get similar opportunities in Europe and, of course, there will be, if we get the economic strength that allows the Fed to proceed with tapering there will be some great equity opportunities in the U.S.

So, you know, the shift in monetary policy actually represents maybe the beginning of different opportunities in different equity markets around the world.

Mike Weldon: Okay, and turning to the second issue that you mentioned is structural reform, the opportunity for that to take place. Tell us more about that.

Zane Brown: Well certainly, there is an opportunity for structure reform again among nearly every developed country and by that, I mean in the United States. We have an opportunity for tax reform. We have an opportunity for maybe some entitlement reform. Unclear whether or not we'll take advantage of it, but at the same time, the Eurozone has an opportunity to kind of increase the flexibility in their labor markets or allow an easier process for exports.

Similarly, you've got Japan and China. They've both announced things that they want to do from a structural standpoint. The question is will they be able to execute them. Now as the individual countries decide or don't decide to do that, you know they have this opportunity to increase efficiency, increase competitiveness, increase consumption, and whoever succeeds, whenever they succeed, that will create, again, interesting investment opportunities in those countries.

Mike Weldon: And finally, you mentioned the Middle East and the potential for resolving some of the crises there. So talk about those and then for many investors they might be thinking well, that's a long way from investment opportunity so maybe just, you know, how that might tie in.

Zane Brown: Oh, sure. Well you know whether it's Iran and a resolution of their nuclear capability or the conflicts in Syria, or the troop withdrawal, U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, you know if we don't get good resolution in one or all of those issues you can expect what, oil prices to rise, investor focus to be preoccupied with what's going on over there and not really focused on investment fundamentals.

What we hope for instead is peaceful resolution and the dividend there is likely to be increased trade. We've already seen some companies start to line up to trade with Iran when they haven't done that for years. So you get maybe increased trade, maybe an opportunity for less in the way of military buildup and, certainly, an opportunity for increased focus on investment fundamentals that won't be preoccupied with the concern over there with rising oil prices and expanded military conflict.

So, you know, hopefully, that area gets resolved correctly and whether it does or not, it will help formulate investment opportunities in 2014 as will how countries address the systematic or structural reform and the emergence of monetary policy not only in the U.S., but how other countries follow along the same lines.

Mike Weldon: So a lot of big issues. Certainly, the potential for things to go wrong but if I heard you correctly, you know if these things get resolved in a positive manner, it could be very welcome to the markets.

Zane Brown: I think we're looking forward to some interesting opportunities in 2014, and I think these are three key areas that will be very fruitful for those opportunities.

Mike Weldon: Okay, thanks, Zane. This has been Lord Abbett's Investment Perspectives. Thanks for watching.

Narrator: For more information on this topic, or to access other videos, audio files, articles or commentary, please explore Lordabbett.com.

Risks to Consider:
The value of an investment in fixed-income securities will change as interest rates fluctuate and in response to market movements. As interest rates fall, the prices of debt securities tend to rise. As rates rise, prices tend to fall. The value of investments in equity securities will fluctuate in response to general economic conditions and to changes in the prospects of particular companies and/or sectors in the economy. Investing in international securities generally poses greater risk than investing in domestic securities, including greater price fluctuations and higher transaction costs. Special risks are inherent to international investing, including those related to currency fluctuations and foreign, political, and economic events. No investing strategy can overcome all market volatility or guarantee future results.

Glossary
Yield is the annual interest received from a bond and is typically expressed as a percentage of the bond's market price.

A yield curve shows the relationship between yields and maturity dates for a set of similar bonds at a given point in time.

Investment Grade is a rating that indicates that a municipal or corporate bond has a relatively low risk of default. Bond rating firms, such as Standard & Poor's, use different designations consisting of upper- and lower-case letters 'A' and 'B' to identify a bond's credit quality rating. 'AAA' and 'AA' (high credit quality) and 'A' and 'BBB' (medium credit quality) are considered investment grade. Credit ratings for bonds below these designations ('BB', 'B', 'CCC', etc.) are considered low credit quality, and are commonly referred to as "junk bonds".

This broadcast serves as reference material for information purposes only; does not constitute an offer to acquire, solicitation for an offer to acquire, an offer to sell or solicitation for an offer to buy, any securities, nor is intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research, or investment advice on any securities, and cannot be used for any of the foregoing.

The views and opinions expressed by the Lord Abbett speaker are those of the speaker as of the date of the broadcast, and do not necessarily represent the views of the firm as a whole. Any such views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions and Lord Abbett disclaims any responsibility to update such views. Neither Lord Abbett nor the Lord Abbett speaker can be responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered.

The value of investments and any income from them is not guaranteed and may fall as well as rise, and an investor may not get back the amount originally invested. Please consult your investment professional for additional information concerning your specific situation.

This broadcast is the copyright © 2014 of Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC. All Rights Reserved. This recording may not be reproduced in whole or in part or any form without the permission of Lord Abbett. Lord Abbett mutual funds are distributed by Lord Abbett Distributor LLC.

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