“Reach for yield”—This is the commonly heard explanation for why pension plans shift their portfolios toward alternative assets. But we show that the new portfolios also hold more bonds, offer lower average returns and produce smaller and less volatile solvency deficits. These shifts are part of a broader strategy to reduce solvency risk.
Staff analytical notes
We show that a small number of authorized participants (APs) actively create and redeem shares of US-listed fixed-income exchange-traded funds (FI-ETFs). In 2019, three APs performed 82 percent of gross creations and redemptions of FI-ETF shares. In contrast, the group of active APs for equity ETFs was much more diverse.
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.