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From Coast to Coast: How U.S. Muni Bonds Help Build the Nation

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Municipal Bonds Infographic

History of Municipal Bonds

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Over 200 Years of U.S. Municipal Bond History

Our modern society shares few characteristics with the 1800s. In the last two centuries, styles have changed, laws have evolved, and cities look entirely different. However, one thing that has prevailed is the way state and local governments finance public projects.

Far from a new invention, municipal bonds have been shaping U.S. communities for more than 200 years. In today’s infographic from New York Life Investments, we take a look back at their long history.

Early Beginnings – 1800s

1812: First Official Issue
New York City issues a general obligation bond for a canal.

1817-1825: Facilitating Economic Growth
A few years later, 42 separate bond issues help fund the successful Erie Canal project.

1843: Growing Popularity
Municipal debt sits at about $25 million. Over the next two decades, this total increases exponentially to fund urban improvement and free public education.

Circa 1865: Railroad Expansion
For a few years after the American Civil War, a great deal of debt is issued to build railroads.

1873: The Panic of 1873
Excessive investment in railroads, real estate, and nonessential services leads to the downfall of the large bank Jay Cooke and Co., smaller firms, and the stock market. Many state and local governments default, temporarily halting municipal financing.

The 20th Century

1913: Exception Granted
U.S. Congress introduces a permanent federal income tax, and specifically excludes municipal bond income from taxation.
Note: today, a portion of municipal bonds are taxable.

1930: Expansion in the West
In the midst of the Great Depression, voters approve $35 million in funding to build the Golden Gate Bridge.

1939-1945: Diverted Resources
With financial resources directed to the military in WWII, municipal debt falls. By 1945, total debt sits at less than $20 billion.

1960: Exponential Growth
Only 25 years later, outstanding public debt—the total amount owed to creditors—more than triples to $66 billion.

1971: Investor Protection
Municipal bond insurance is introduced. That same year, insured municipal bonds finance the construction of hospital facilities in Alaska—bringing essential services and investment opportunities to a remote area.

1975: Marketplace Stewardship
Bringing further reassurance to the municipal bond market, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) is introduced to establish regulations for dealers, and for advisors at a later date.

1981: Continued Growth
Outstanding public debt reaches $361 billion.

Modern Day

2009-2010: Economic Recovery
More than $181 billion of federally-subsidized Build America Bonds are issued by state and local governments to help stimulate the economy after the financial crisis.

2016-2018: Investor Dollars at Work
In recent years, state and local debt has financed many important projects across the country.

  • 2016: The New York State Thruway Authority issues $850 million in bonds to finance a portion of the new NY Bridge Project.
  • 2017: California’s Department of Water Resources issues $428 million in bonds for the maintenance and construction of its water management infrastructure.
  • 2018: The Denver International Airport issues $2.5B in bonds to finance capital improvements, the largest airport revenue bond in municipal bond history.

2018: Helping People and the Planet
Sustainable applications for municipal bonds continue to grow, with Californian voters approving $2 billion in financing for supportive housing. In addition, state and local governments issue $4.9 billion in U.S. municipal green bonds.

Today: A Sizable Investment Opportunity
As financing spans the nation, the U.S. municipal bond market is both large and active:

  • $3.8 trillion capital market
  • One million outstanding securities
  • $11.6 billion in par traded per/day
  • 40,000 daily trades

Not only that, municipals have offered a compelling after-tax yield. For example, high yield municipals offered 121% of the after-tax yield of high yield corporates as of September 30, 2019.

The Foundation of Infrastructure

For over 200 years, municipal bonds have provided critical financing to build hospitals, schools, highways, airports, and more. Today, two out of three infrastructure projects in the U.S. are financed by municipal bonds.

Additionally, municipals have weathered almost every economic storm, providing much-needed capital stimulus during some of the deepest U.S. recessions. As history continues to unfold, municipals hold great potential for issuers, communities, and investors.

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Infographics

Visualized: Three Investment Opportunities for the Future

Here are three investment opportunities to consider as the U.S. government proposes a record $6 trillion in budget initiatives.

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Investment Opportunities

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Visualized: Three Investment Opportunities for the Future

With proposed government spending initiatives set to reach $6 trillion, the U.S. could be entering a new era of economic potential.

Sweeping measures have been proposed to support the economy—reaching levels of sustained spending not seen since WWII. These include a $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

But how will this affect financial markets, and what investment opportunities does this present? As we look ahead, this infographic from New York Life Investments explores three potential areas of growth.

Three Investment Opportunities

Here are key trends that could shape the future—creating new opportunities for investors—as government spending increases:

1. The Strategic Role of Debt

In 2021, corporate debt sits at roughly 50% of U.S. GDP.

Importantly, COVID-19 relief packages helped offset a wave of defaults. Yet at the same time, a record $1.7 trillion in corporate debt was issued by nonfinancial companies in 2020—$600 billion higher than the previous peak. This rise in debt may offer potential investment opportunities.

In a low-interest rate environment, debt is relatively less expensive for companies to hold than during periods of high interest rates. This means they can invest in their business, make acquisitions, and gain greater market share.

Companies with investment-grade debt, which have stronger ratings from credit agencies, will likely be better positioned to make strategic business moves and mitigate the potential of future default.

2. Digital Infrastructure

There are several core components that underpin technology today:

Semiconductor chips: Key components in electronics such as smartphones, computers, refrigerators, and cars. As electronics proliferate, semiconductor companies may provide windows of opportunity. By 2030, electronics are projected to make up 45% of a car’s cost, up from 18% in 2000.

Broadband: Infrastructure required for internet access, including in rural and remote areas. Across OECD countries, broadband subscriptions per 100 people is just 33.3, illustrating a gap in access to high-speed internet. 5G, fiber optic cable, and internet infrastructure companies could offer the essentials that are needed.

Hyperscale cloud providers: Enable vast amounts of data and computing power to operate on cloud-based platforms, often in real time. With average gross margins of 57% and net debt to equity of 4%, cloud computing vendors could be poised for growth as data expands exponentially.

3. Emerging Markets’ Growing Middle Class

In the last two decades, emerging market (EM) income per capita has doubled. As disposable incomes rise, the consumer landscape is shifting towards more sustainable products.

Willingness to Pay a Premium for the Following Attributes% of Respondents
Contains organic/all-natural ingredients41%
Contains environmentally friendly/sustainable materials38%
Offers/does something no other product on the market provides37%
Delivers on social responsibility claims30%

Source: Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey conducted with Nielsen. Data as at June, 2020.

Notably, the plant-based meat market in Asia is projected to grow 15.9% annually by 2026. In fact, global consumer searches for sustainable products have grown 71% since 2016.

Forces of Change

At this critical juncture in spending lies new investment opportunities. While it’s impossible to predict the future, strong underlying trends provide clues for how investors can think about positioning their portfolio.

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The 5 Fastest Growing Industries of the Next Decade

We reveal the five fastest growing industries of the future, within broader sectors such as healthcare and technology. Which industry will be number one?

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Fastest Growing Industries

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The Fastest Growing Industries of the Future

Today, the U.S. economy looks very different than it did hundreds of ago. While railroad stocks dominated in the 19th century, industries within technology and healthcare have grown substantially in recent years. As dynamics continue to shift, what will be the fastest growing industries of the future?

In this infographic from New York Life Investments, we uncover the industries projected to see the fastest growth rates over the next decade.

What Are the Fastest Growing Industries?

The U.S. economy is growing. From 2019 to 2029, total industry output is expected to rise by more than 20%.

Output is the value of final goods and services, as well as intermediary sales that are not typically included in GDP. In this case, output is based on chained 2012 dollars, which is a method of adjusting real dollar amounts for inflation over time using 2012 as a base year.

Below, we count down the fastest growing industries from 2019 to 2029, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

#5: Outpatient Care Centers

This industry is defined as facilities where the patient is not required to stay overnight, such as:

  • Mental health and substance abuse centers
  • Family planning clinics
  • Dialysis clinics
  • Multidisciplinary clinics

As patients demand more convenient and less expensive care, the popularity of outpatient care centers has grown. Advances in medical technology, such as minimally invasive surgeries, also allow for same day release. Here is what projected growth looks like for the industry.

Compound Annual Growth Rate3.2%
2019 Output$122B
2029 Output$168B

However, investors may want to consider that health care leaders say implementing information technology (IT) is their greatest challenge.

#4: Computer System Design & Related Services

Companies that primarily provide IT expertise fall within this industry. Here are some examples:

  • IT consultants
  • Programming services
  • Video design
  • Web page development
    • The growth of e-commerce and digital marketing will likely contribute to the industry’s success. For instance, U.S. e-commerce climbed by 32% in 2020. Buoyed by these trends, computer systems design companies are expected to have a compound annual growth rate exceeding 3%.

      Compound Annual Growth Rate3.2%
      2019 Output$518B
      2029 Output$712B

      On the other hand, investors may want to watch for the high capital costs some IT companies could incur to upgrade outdated platforms.

      #3: Oil & Gas Extraction

      This industry includes companies involved in the preparation of oil & gas, up to the point of shipment from the producing property. Some examples are:

      • Integrated oil & gas companies
      • Drilling contractors
      • Exploration & production companies

      As inflation rises, extraction companies may benefit from higher prices and wider profit margins. The industry is expected to have the third highest growth rate over the next decade.

      Compound Annual Growth Rate3.4%
      2019 Output$474B
      2029 Output$660B

      However, investors may want to consider the growing traction of sustainable investments. While oil demand isn’t projected to peak until 2035, the shift to clean energy may cause long-term challenges for the industry.

      #2: Information Services

      Businesses that supply, search for, or publish information fall within this industry. Some examples are:

      • News syndicates
      • Internet publishing
      • Broadcasting
      • Web search portals

      Consumption of trusted news brands is growing, and paid subscriptions are increasing in richer Western countries. In addition, Google has committed at least $1 billion to license content from publishers for its News Showcase product. Here’s what potential growth looks like for information services companies.

      Compound Annual Growth Rate4.2%
      2019 Output$243B
      2029 Output$365B

      On the other hand, ad revenue is falling in some segments. Investors researching this industry may want to consider platforms that are diversifying their revenue streams.

      #1: Software Publishers

      Topping the list of the fastest growing industries is companies that design, install, and provide post-purchase support for software. Some examples are:

      • Cybersecurity
      • Graphic design
      • Operating systems
      • Customer relationship management

      Amid remote work and e-commerce growth, software enables companies to connect with employees and customers. The industry is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of almost 5% from 2019 to 2029.

      Compound Annual Growth Rate4.8%
      2019 Output$236B
      2029 Output$378B

      At the same time, the industry has relatively low barriers to entry. Investors may want to watch for competitors, which can pop up anytime and threaten existing companies’ market share.

      Industries of the Future

      Investors with a long-term view can consider investments in these high potential areas. Propelled by market trends, the fastest growing industries fall within three broader sectors:

      By looking to the future, investors may be able to capitalize on industries poised for growth.

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