Ever since he made his presidential bid in June 2015, Donald Trump has vowed to “make America great again.” Part of that promise includes rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, a monumental task that will require the financial backing of tax-free municipal bonds.
“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” the president-elect told reporters the day after his historic victory. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none.”
To accomplish this, Trump has proposed a spending package as high as $1 trillion over the next 10 years. Although the private sector will be expected to finance a large portion of the work, massive amounts of public debt will be necessary.
This could be a “very big item for the muni market in the coming years,” according to John Vahey, managing director of federal policy for Bond Dealers of America, a trade association for fixed-income dealers.
Americans already appear eager to get started repairing their infrastructure, which is facing a $3.6 trillion shortfall, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
So far this year, state and local governments have issued nearly $150 billion in municipal bonds for new infrastructure projects, putting 2016 borrowing on a path to exceed levels in each of the last five years. And on Election Day, U.S. voters approved $55.7 billion in debt, the most since 2008.
Stay the Course
A possible headwind for munis is Trump’s proposal to reduce the top marginal income tax rate, from 39.6 percent to 33 percent. Although good for your pocketbook, such a move could limit the appeal of munis’ tax-exempt status among some top-earning investors.
|Ordinary Income Rate||Capital Gains Rate||Single Filers||Married Joint Filers|
|12%||0%||$0 to $37,500||$0 to $75,000|
|25%||15%||$37,500 to $112,500||$75,000 to $225,000|
|Source: Tax Foundation, U.S. Global Investors|
Other investors might be dazzled by what the media are calling the “Trump rally.” With the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending at a record high on Monday and Tuesday, munis could lose favor as investors increase their exposure to equities.
However, it’s important that we don’t overreact to market swings. A well-structured, diversified portfolio—one that also includes munis—is still the most prudent strategy going forward.
Reduce Volatility with Short-Term, Investment-Grade Munis
Something else to keep in mind are interest rates. It’s highly expected that the Federal Reserve will raise them next month, the first time it would do so since December of last year.
Even though rates will likely be lifted as little as 0.25 percent, it’s important to be aware that when rates rise, bond prices fall. At first glance, this inverse relationship might seem illogical, but it makes sense. If newly-issued bonds carry a higher yield, the value of existing bonds with lower rates declines.
That’s why investors should consider taking advantage of shorter-duration, investment-grade munis, which are less sensitive to rate increases than longer-term bonds whose maturities are further out.
Our Near-Term Tax Free Fund (NEARX) invests primarily in high-quality, investment-grade muni bonds in attractive jurisdictions. This strategy has led to more than two decades of positive annual returns, regardless of where interest rates were, what equity markets were doing or who occupied the White House.
I invite you to explore NEARX, which has delivered a phenomenal 21 straight years of positive returns. That’s a rare accomplishment that has been achieved by only 39 out of 31,306 equity and bond funds—around 0.12 percent—according to Morningstar data.
Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, Distributor. U.S. Global Investors is the investment adviser.
Past performance does not guarantee future results.
|Near-Term Tax Free Fund (NEARX)||1.26%||1.80%||2.88%||1.09%||0.45%|
Expense ratio as stated in the most recent prospectus. The expense cap is a contractual limit through April 30, 2017, for the Near-Term Tax Free Fund, on total fund operating expenses (exclusive of acquired fund fees and expenses, extraordinary expenses, taxes, brokerage commissions and interest). Performance data quoted above is historical. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Results reflect the reinvestment of dividends and other earnings. For a portion of periods, the fund had expense limitations, without which returns would have been lower. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The principal value and investment return of an investment will fluctuate so that your shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Performance does not include the effect of any direct fees described in the fund’s prospectus, which, if applicable, would lower your total returns. Performance quoted for periods of one year or less is cumulative and not annualized. Obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end at www.usfunds.com or 1-800-US-FUNDS.
Bond funds are subject to interest-rate risk; their value declines as interest rates rise. Though the Near-Term Tax Free Fund seeks minimal fluctuations in share price, it is subject to the risk that the credit quality of a portfolio holding could decline, as well as risk related to changes in the economic conditions of a state, region or issuer. These risks could cause the fund’s share price to decline. Tax-exempt income is federal income tax free. A portion of this income may be subject to state and local taxes and at times the alternative minimum tax. The Near-Term Tax Free Fund may invest up to 20% of its assets in securities that pay taxable interest. Income or fund distributions attributable to capital gains are usually subject to both state and federal income taxes.
The Near-Term Tax Free Fund invests at least 80 percent of its net assets investment-grade municipal securities. At the time of purchase for the fund’s portfolio, the ratings on the bonds must be one of the four highest ratings by Moody’s Investors Services (Aaa, Aa, A, Baa) or Standard & Poor’s Corporation (AAA, AA, A, BBB). Credit quality designations range from high (AAA to AA) to medium (A to BBB) to low (BB, B, CCC, CC to C). In the event a bond is rated by more than one of the ratings organizations, the highest rating is shown.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 blue chip stocks that are generally leaders in their industry.
Diversification does not protect an investor from market risks and does not assure a profit.
All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.