Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) exist in even the most unlikely areas of finance, and floating-rate securities are no exception.
The largest ETF in this sector is the iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF (FLOT), which has more than $10 billion in assets under management and offers access to 700 floating-rate securities of investment-grade companies. Floating-rate securities are simply debt instruments that have a variable rate.
As such, they usually are tied to some kind of benchmark, such as the three-month London Inter-bank Offered Rate (LIBOR). These debt instruments gained some degree of notoriety during the ???Taper Tantrum??? of 2013, in which bond yields drastically increased after investors overreacted to the Federal Reserve tapering off quantitative easing. Floating-rate investments were perceived as a way to get around the short-term spike in yields.
In environments where interest rates are expected to rise, such as now, floating-rate securities tend to be more popular than fixed-income securities. Bond yields react inversely to interest rates, so market prices for fixed-income investments will drop when interest rates rise. Meanwhile, floating-rate investments, with no set price, are less affected. Also, many floating-rate investments offer price floors and ceilings that allow investors to know exactly how much a security will pay, making it a feasible income stream in times of rising and falling interest rates.
However, floating-rate investments tend to yield less as investors trade an enhanced income stream for greater safety, meaning reduced credit risk and volatility. That being said, FLOT???s 30-day SEC yield is 2.5%, which is still significantly above the yields of a good many ETFs.
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