Bond dealers have traditionally kept bonds in an inventory until clients buy them. But now, dealers have another way to access bonds for their clients: the exchange-traded fund. We discuss this new way to manage bond dealing and what it might mean for bond markets.
Rohan Arora is an Senior Economist in the Financial Markets Department at the Bank of Canada. Rohan holds a M.A. in Economics from the University of Toronto.
Staff Analytical Notes
The creation and redemption activity of fixed-income exchange-traded funds listed in the United States has shifted. Funds of established issuers have traditionally exchanged their shares for baskets of bonds. In contrast, young funds managed by new issuers tend to create and redeem their shares almost exclusively in cash. Cash transactions imply that new funds are taking on exposure to liquidity risk. This has implications for financial stability.
We introduce a new proxy for measuring corporate bond liquidity, using the price of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that hold corporate bonds. It measures the average liquidity across 900 corporate bonds every day, many more than other proxies used in previous Bank of Canada analysis. The new proxy nonetheless paints a very similar picture of liquidity conditions and confirms the previous findings: the liquidity of bonds has generally improved since 2010.
We create a hypothetical scenario to study the role bond funds play in intensifying shocks to the financial system. Using data from 2018 and 2007, we find that bond funds play a larger role now than they did in the past.
When redeeming shares for investors, bond fund managers must choose a mix of cash and bond sales to honour their commitments. This note uses machine learning algorithms to uncover new patterns in decisions fund managers make to meet redemptions.
Mutual funds employ a host of tools to manage redemption run risk. However, our results suggest that Canadian corporate bond funds may be vulnerable to redemption runs, especially when they are less liquid and when market volatility is high.
When investors redeem their fund shares for cash, fixed-income fund managers can choose whether to draw on their liquid holdings or sell bonds in the secondary market. We analyze the liquidity-management decisions of Canadian corporate bond mutual funds, focusing on the strategies they use to meet investor redemptions.
Canadian corporate bond mutual funds have rapidly increased in number and size in recent years. Their holdings have also become riskier, increasing their exposures to credit risk, interest rate risk and liquidity risk. We also briefly discuss financial stability implications.