MSCI, a leading index provider, has just launched its first fixed income market indexes, all corporate bond indexes.
Fifteen bond indexes were introduced in all: an investment-grade index weighted by issuance, two ESG corporate bond indexes and 12 factor indexes, including the typical value, size and risk, used in equity indexes, but also the carry factor, which is unique to currency and bond markets.
“We are pleased to bring next generation fixed income indexes to market,” said Jana Haines, Head of Index Products, Americas, at MSCI, in a statement. “Investors are increasingly demanding ESG integration across all asset classes and looking to Factors — such as Carry, Quality, Value, Size and Risk — to more precisely define how they can better identify, measure and manage risk and return in their portfolios.”
In a new study accompanying the announcement, MSCI analysts noted that in the current low interest rate environment, exposure to bond indexes other than the prevailing conventional issuance-weighted indexes can help enhance “risk-adjusted fixed-income performance.”
They found that from September 2005 to June 2019, exposure to low risk and quality factors in the corporate bond market improved risk-adjusted returns and the size premium was most evident among smaller-sized bonds, which tend to be less liquid. Multi-factor combinations benefited from increased diversification due to weak correlations among various style factors. The researchers also found that “transaction costs had a significant impact on strategy performance.”