The market is finally waking up to the prospects of not just viral contagion from coronavirus, but also to financial and geopolitical contagion. Now the contagion is spreading rapidly into the credit markets where not only energy bonds are plunging but other sectors like airlines, lodging, and retail are sure to follow suit. Then there is the knock-on effect to corporate earnings and cash flows across a broad swath of industries once the world enters a global recession which now appears to be inevitable. We
The market is waking up to not just the viral contagion of coronavirus, but also to financial, economic, and geopolitical contagion.
by Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners
arrive at this moment with the overleveraged corporate sector about to face the prospect that new-issue bond markets may seize up, as they did last week, and that even seemingly sound companies will find credit expensive or difficult to obtain. Credit spreads have a long way to expand. BBB bonds could easily reach a spread of 400 basis points over Treasurys while high yield would follow suit with BB bonds at 750 basis points over and single B bonds at 1,100 basis points over. The risk is that it could be worse. As for stocks, technical analysis suggests that there should be support around 2,600 on the S&P 500, but in a recession scenario a level closer to 2,000 could be the ultimate outcome.
At well-capitalized institutions, examiners have been quick to identify funding concentrations in high-rate deposits and to question stress testing assumptions for high-rate deposit run-off and the feasibility of utilizing national market deposits (e.g. Qwickrate, National CD Rateline, etc.) in times of stress. Recently, the FDIC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking outlining potential changes to the calculation of the national rate and adjustments in the determining criterion for the rate cap.
Some key highlights from the FDIC's proposal are outlined below:
Taylor Advisors' Take:
While not perfect, we view this proposal from the FDIC as a shift to a more 'common sense' approach in managing the interest rate cap restrictions. This proposal would provide meaningfully more latitude for deposit rates within the national rate cap by using the 95th percentile and simplifies the process by which banks calculate a local market rate cap. While this proposal does not entirely eliminate the liquidity trap posed by interest rate caps, it does go a long way in providing regulatory relief to less than well capitalized institutions and eases liquidity stress testing assumptions for well capitalized banks. Banks have a 60-day window to voice their opinions to the FDIC.
by Diane Franklin, contributing writer for CUES
Consult with a professional advisor about your particular situation.
Are insurance benefits provided to board members considered taxable income? The answer is largely “yes,” but also, “it depends.”
“The general rule under the tax code is something provided in return for services rendered is taxable income to the recipient (board member),” says R. Scott Richardson, JD, CLU, ChFC, president/CEO, IZALE Financial Group, a CUES Supplier member in Elgin, Illinois. “However, insurance benefits can be treated differently.”
Richardson explains that while the value of accident and health insurance is not taxable for employees, it will likely be taxable for board members.
“There are narrow exceptions where it would not be taxable income,” so consulting a tax advisor is worthwhile, he says.
In the case of life insurance, rather than take out a formal policy, credit unions can promise to pay a benefit (out of pocket) upon a board member’s death, in which case the beneficiaries would report the amount as ordinary income. The CU is essentially acting as its own insurance.
However, in the event of a policy paid for by the CU, Richardson reports there is a choice: “Either the board member reports the ‘economic benefit’ of the coverage as income each year, resulting in an income-tax-free benefit, or the board member does not report economic benefit, resulting in a benefit subject to ordinary income taxes.”
Life insurance is generally income-tax free except when someone else pays for it, in which case there’s some “economic benefit” to the board member, he explains. If the board member owns the policy but premiums are paid by the CU, the premiums paid by the CU equal the economic benefit and are taxable income. If the CU owns the policy and allows the board member to designate a beneficiary, then the right to designate the beneficiary is the economic benefit. If the board member reports the value of that economic benefit each year as taxable income, then death proceeds received would be income-tax free. If the board member does not report the value of the economic benefit each year, then death proceeds would be subject to ordinary income tax.
With long-term care insurance, Richardson notes that any benefits received under a qualified policy are not taxable, though the premiums likely would be. “Since board members are not employees, they would be treated as ‘self-employed’ for income-tax purposes.”
Jim Patterson, partner with Minneapolis-based law firm Sherman & Patterson, similarly notes that directors are under different tax rules than employees. “… directors are not subject to some of the tax benefits that employees get,” he said. “In the case of long-term care insurance, for instance, if that were provided to an executive employee of the credit union, it can be done so on a tax-free basis. But for directors, who are not employees, that would be considered taxable income.”
Even if these benefits are taxable, Richardson says there are still advantages for both the board member and the credit union. “First, paying taxes on $1 of reportable income requires much less cash flow than paying the $1 of premium out of pocket. Second, there are pricing discounts and underwriting concessions available to groups that can be the difference between being affordable and attainable versus not.”
Richardson concludes with advice to consult with tax professionals “to understand the full implications.”
Diane Franklin is a freelance writer based in Missouri. This article published with expressed permission from CUES
by Scott Richardson, CEO/President of IZALE Financial Group
Despite lower corporate tax rates and a narrower spread between traditional bank-eligible investments and Bank/Business-Owned Life Insurance, BOLI continues be a powerful asset for your balance sheet. The earnings are competitive for the risk and accrue without any tax provisions. The book value is stable - rising interest rates won't result in mark-to-market adjustments like with bonds. At its core it's still life insurance and we've seen firsthand how the life insurance proceeds have provided invaluable benefits to an insured officer's family as well as to the institution.
BOLI crediting rates have remained somewhat stable since the beginning of 2018, and programs that deliver 3% or more yield out of the gate are readily available. While those rates have remained stable, market rates have moved generally upward even if in fits and starts. As of March 25, the 10-year Treasury bond was a mere 3 bps higher yield than the 13-week Treasury bill (with an inversion with shorter duration); the result is about 75bps-100bps of spread between 10-year Treasuries and BOLI. That's down from the historical average of over 200bps. That narrow spread has many institutions re-evaluating their inforce BOLI or delaying their next purchase of it. The thought goes that until there is greater reward for the risk of going longer, stay short.
Ignoring the immediate lost earnings from staying on the sidelines, trying to time entry to the markets is challenging to say the least. What if instead of measuring your BOLI returns against fixed-income assets like bonds, you could measure them against an equity-index? Before you get too far on the ledge - we're not talking about exposing cash value to an index; cash values will always have stable book value treatment. What we're talking about is a transparent way to determine the crediting rate by measuring the change in an index, most commonly the S&P 500.
"Indexed Universal Life" or IUL has been available on a retail basis for more than 20 years, and in 2018 IUL accounted for almost 30% of permanent life sales. While widely available on a retail basis, it wasn't until recently that IUL became available with a single-premium, 100%-beginning-cash-value design associated with BOLI.
With IUL, the carrier offers a "floor" or minimum crediting rate (along with full book-value treatment) and a "cap" or maximum crediting rate that can flow from the change in the index.
After several quarters of low volatility, tight spreads, and abundant liquidity, financial conditions are shifting.
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IZALE Financial Group is hereby authorized to use the copyrighted report “Fixed-Income Outlook: Second Quarter 2018,” by Guggenheim Partners, solely for the purpose of posting on its company blog, found here.
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