U.S. fund firms are taking extra measures to make sure they don't get stuck holding hard-to-sell bonds in the event that fixed income markets see a massive race to the exits when interest rates start to rise.
Over the past few months a growing number of asset managers, including Neuberger Berman, Natixis Global Management and T. Rowe Price have been testing their funds against various market scenarios, building cushions of cash, shorter-duration bonds and other liquid securities, and regularly discussing risks with their boards.
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The concern is this: As the Federal Reserve begins to raise rates, which many expect will begin to happen next year, investors will rush to sell bonds as their value drops in a rising interest rate environment. Historically Wall Street banks have been the buyers of these bonds, but regulations and capital requirements imposed since the financial crisis have forced these firms to slash their inventories.