|Closing Market Price||$23.80|
|52-week Average Premium/Discount||5.69%|
|Current Distribution Rate 1, 2||6.34%|
|Monthly Distribution Per Share2||$0.12573|
|Common Shares Outstanding||20,640,601|
|52 Week High/Low Market Price||$25.69/$22.17|
|52 Week High/Low NAV||$23.51/$21.67|
|Intraday Trading Information||NYSE|
|Closing Market Price||$23.80|
|Total Managed Assets||$916,830,759|
|52-Week Average Premium/Discount||5.69%|
|Investment Adviser||Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC|
|Portfolio Manager/Sub-Adviser||Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC|
|Expense Ratio (Common Shares)4||1.14%|
|Portfolio Turnover Rate||15%|
|Inception Market Price||$20.00|
|1940 Act Asset Coverage Ratio||202.65%|
|Since Inception (10/26/10)||8.84%||8.55%|
Performance data quoted represents past performance, which is no guarantee of future results, and current performance may be lower or higher than the figures shown. Since Inception returns assume a purchase of common shares at each Fund’s initial offering price for market price returns or the Fund’s initial net asset value (NAV) for NAV returns. Returns for periods of less than one year are not annualized. All distributions are assumed to be reinvested either in accordance with the dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) for market price returns or NAV for NAV returns. Until the DRIP price is available from the Plan Agent, the market price returns reflect the reinvestment at the closing market price on the last business day of the month. Once the DRIP is available around mid-month, the market price returns are updated to reflect reinvestment at the DRIP price. All returns include the deduction of management fees, operating expenses and all other fund expenses, and do not reflect the deduction of brokerage commissions or taxes that investors may pay on distributions or the sale of shares. Please refer to the most recent annual or semi-annual report for additional information.
Distributions are not guaranteed and are subject to change.
1 Latest declared distribution per share annualized and divided by the current share price.
2 Distributions may be paid from sources of income other than ordinary income, such as short term capital gains, long term capital gains or return of capital. If a distribution consists of something other than ordinary income, a 19(a) notice detailing the anticipated source(s) of the distribution will be made available. The 19(a) notice will be posted to the Fund’s website and to the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation so that brokers can distribute such notices to Shareholders of the Fund. Section 19(a) notices are provided for informational purposes only and not for tax reporting purposes. The final determination of the source and tax characteristics of all distributions in a particular year will be made after the end of the year. This information is not legal or tax advice. Consult a professional regarding your specific legal or tax matters.
3 Represents the amount of financial leverage the Fund currently employs as a percentage of total Fund assets.
4 Expense ratios are annualized and reflect the Fund’s operating expense, including interest expense, or in the case of a fund with a fee waiver, net operating expense, as of the most recent annual or semi-annual report. The expense ratio, based on common assets, excluding interest expense was 0.92%.
The Trust’s primary investment objective is to provide current income with a secondary objective of long-term capital appreciation. The Trust cannot ensure investors that it will achieve its investment objectives.
The Trust seeks to achieve its investment objectives by investing primarily in a diversified portfolio of taxable municipal securities and other investment grade, income generating debt securities, including debt instruments issued by non-profit entities (such as entities related to healthcare, higher education and housing), municipal conduits, project finance corporations, and tax-exempt municipal securities. Under normal market conditions:
Build America Bonds (“BABs”) are taxable municipal debt obligations issued pursuant to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (the “Act”). BABs provide state and local governments with an alternative method of financing capital projects such as public buildings, schools and transportation infrastructure, which may be more affordable than issuing tax-exempt municipal securities. To help offset issuers’ borrowing costs, the U.S. Treasury Department (“Treasury”) subsidizes 35% of the interest paid on BABs. Issuers can elect to receive a direct payment from the Treasury (via the issuance of “direct payment BABs”) or to provide bondholders with a tax credit (via the issuance of “tax credit BABs”). Such subsidies may allow issuers to issue BABs that pay interest rates that are expected to be competitive with the rates paid by private bond issuers in the taxable fixed-income market. The BABs program allowed state and local governments to issue an unlimited amount of taxable debt through December 31, 2010, however, the issuance of BABs was discontinued on December 31, 2010. Under the sequestration process under the Budget Control Act of 2011, automatic spending cuts that became effective on March 1, 2013 reduced the federal subsidy for BABs and other subsidized taxable municipal bonds. The reduced federal subsidy has been extended through 2024. The subsidy payments were reduced by 7.3% in 2015 and by 6.8% in 2016.
Through a proprietary duration management trading strategy, the Trust will utilize a two-pronged approach that seeks to reduce the portfolio’s effective duration to generally less than 15 years.
Interest-Rate Swaps. GPIM will initially seek to take advantage of the relatively flat portions of the U.S. Treasury yield curve that appear to offer favorable decreases in duration without significant yield concessions. For example, this may be accomplished by combining the sale of interest-rate swaps on the long end of the yield curve with the purchase of interest-rate swaps on the intermediate portion of the yield curve. To take advantage of cost anomalies, GPIM will have the flexibility to opportunistically manage duration and may trade across other yield curves that exhibit similarly wide duration spreads with low spreads in yields.
Fixed-Income Sector and Security Selection. The Trust may invest in short-duration fixed-income securities, which may help to decrease the overall duration of the Trust’s portfolio while also potentially adding incremental yield.
GPIM may seek to manage the Trust’s duration in a flexible and opportunistic manner based primarily on then current market conditions and interest rate levels. The Trust may incur cost in implementing the duration management strategy. There can be no assurance that GPIM’s duration management strategy will be successful in managing the duration of the Trust’s portfolio or helping the Trust to achieve its investment objectives.
An open-end fund may be purchased or sold at NAV, plus sales charge in some cases. An open-end fund will issue new shares when an investor wants to purchases shares in the fund and will sell assets to redeem shares when an investor wants to sell shares. When selling an open-end fund the price the seller receives is established at the close of the market when the NAV is calculated. Unlike the open-end fund, a closed-end fund has a limited number of shares outstanding and trades on an exchange at the market price based on supply and demand. An investor may purchase or sell shares at market price while the exchange is open. The common shares may trade at a discount or premium to the NAV.
Leveraged closed-end funds offer investors the opportunity to purchase shares of a fund whose dividend yields generally are designed to be higher than those of similar, unleveraged investments. At the same time, leverage introduces or heightens certain investment risks. As a result, understanding leverage, its benefits and risks, plays an important role in determining whether a leveraged Fund is the right investment. Leverage creates risks that may adversely affect the return for the holders of common shares, including: the likelihood of greater volatility of NAV and market price of the Fund’s common shares, fluctuations in the dividend rates, and possible increased operating costs, which may reduce the Fund’s total return.
DRIP is the Dividend Reinvestment Plan. The DRIP price is the cost per share for all participants in the reinvestment plan. The DRIP price is determined by one of two scenarios. One, if the Common Shares are trading at a discount, the DRIP price is the weighted average cost to purchase the Common Shares from the NYSE or elsewhere. Lastly, if the Common Shares are trading at a premium, the DRIP price is the determined either the higher of the NAV or approximately 95% of the Common Share price.
Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC
227 West Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60606
Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC
100 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 500
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Mr. Minerd is Chairman of Investments and Global Chief Investment Officer at Guggenheim. Mr. Minerd guides the firm’s investment strategies and oversees client accounts across a broad range of fixed-income and equity securities. Previously, Mr. Minerd was a Managing Director with Credit Suisse First Boston in charge of trading and risk management for the Fixed Income Credit Trading Group. In this position, he was responsible for the corporate bond, preferred stock, money markets, U.S. government agency and sovereign debt, derivatives securities, structured debt and interest rate swaps trading business units. Prior to that, Mr. Minerd was Morgan Stanley’s London based European Capital Markets Products Trading and Risk Manager responsible for Eurobonds, Euro-MTNs, domestic European Bonds, FRNs, derivative securities and money market products in 12 European currencies and Asian markets. Mr. Minerd has also held capital markets positions with Merrill Lynch and Continental Bank. Prior to that, he was a Certified Public Accountant and worked for the public accounting firm of Price Waterhouse. Mr. Minerd is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Investor Advisory Committee on Financial Markets, helping advise the NY Fed President and senior management at the bank about the current financial markets and ways the public and private sectors can better understand and mitigate systematic risks. Mr. Minerd also works with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), advising on research and analysis of private sector infrastructure investment, and is a contributing member of the World Economic Forum (WEF). He is a regularly featured guest and contributor to leading financial media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, and CNBC, where he shares insights on today’s financial climate. Mr. Minerd holds a B.S. degree in Economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and has completed graduate work at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Walsh joined Guggenheim in 2007 and is head of the Portfolio Construction Group (“PCG”) where she oversees more than $100 billion in fixed income investments including Agencies, Credit, Municipals, Residential Mortgage Backed Securities, Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities and Asset Backed Securities across several Guggenheim affiliates. The PCG is responsible for sector allocation, risk management and hedging strategies for client portfolios, and conveying Guggenheim’s macro-economic outlook to Portfolio Managers and fixed income Sector Specialists. Ms. Walsh specializes in liability driven portfolio management. With more than 29 years in the investment management industry, including roles as a money manager and as a selector of money managers, Ms. Walsh is well suited to understand the needs of institutional clients and how to address them. Prior to joining Guggenheim, Ms. Walsh served as Chief Investment Officer at Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated, a recognized leader in the global life reinsurance industry. Prior to joining RGA in 2000, Ms. Walsh served as Vice President and Senior Investment Consultant for Zurich Scudder Investments. Earlier, she held roles at Lincoln Investment Management and American Bankers Insurance Group. Ms. Walsh received her BSBA and MBA from Auburn University and her J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law. She has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation and is a member of the CFA Institute.
Mr. Brown joined Guggenheim in 2010 and is a part of the Portfolio Management team for Guggenheim’s Active Fixed Income and Total Return mandates. Mr. Brown is involved in all facets of portfolio management including working with the senior Portfolio Managers and CIOs to develop and apply the macro and sector level views at the individual portfolio level. Additionally he works closely with the sector teams and portfolio construction to implement trades and optimize portfolios. Prior to joining the portfolio management team in 2012 Mr. Brown worked in the non-mortgage asset backed securities group. His responsibilities on that team included trading, sourcing and evaluating investment opportunities and monitoring credits. Prior to joining Guggenheim Mr. Brown held roles within treasury services and structured products at ABN AMRO and Bank of America in Chicago and London. Mr. Brown earned a BS in Finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. He has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation and is a member of the CFA Institute.
Mr. Li joined Guggenheim in 2007 with a dual role in equities and investment grade corporate research. He began covering municipal bonds when Guggenheim built up sector exposure to take advantage of the auction-rate securities market dislocation in early 2008. He manages Guggenheim’s dedicated municipal portfolios in addition to overseeing multi-strategy accounts’ exposure to the sector. Mr. Li received a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University. He has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation and is a member of the CFA Institute.
Mr. Bloch joined Guggenheim in 2012 and is a portfolio manager for Guggenheim’s Active Fixed Income and Total Return Mandates. Mr. Bloch works with the CIOs and other portfolio managers to develop portfolio strategy in line with the firm’s views. He oversees strategy implementation, working with research analysts and traders to generate trade ideas, hedge portfolios, and manage day-to-day risk. Prior to joining Guggenheim, he worked in Leveraged Finance at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York where he structured high-yield bonds and leveraged loans for leveraged buyouts, restructurings, and corporate refinancings across multiple industries. Mr. Bloch graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Investors should consider the following risk factors and special considerations associated with investing in the Trust. Investors should be aware that in light of the current uncertainty, volatility and distress in economies, financial markets, and labor and health conditions over the world, the risks below are heightened significantly compared to normal conditions and therefore subject the Trust’s investments and a shareholder’s investment in the Trust to elevated investment risk, including the possible loss of the entire principal amount invested.
Not a Complete Investment Program
The Trust is intended for investors seeking a high level of after-tax total return, with an emphasis on current distributions paid to shareholders, over the long term. The Trust is not meant to provide a vehicle for those who wish to play short-term swings in the stock market. An investment in the Common Shares of the Trust should not be considered a complete investment program. Each Common Shareholder should take into account the Trust’s investment objectives as well as the Common Shareholder’s other investments when considering an investment in the Trust.
Investment and Market Risk
An investment in the Trust is subject to investment risk, particularly under current economic, financial, labor and health conditions, including the possible loss of the entire principal amount that you invest. An investment in the Common Shares of the Trust represents an indirect investment in the securities owned by the Trust. The value of, or income generated by, the investments held by the Trust are subject to the possibility of rapid and unpredictable fluctuation. These movements may result from factors affecting individual companies, or from broader influences, including real or perceived changes in prevailing interest rates, changes in inflation or expectations about inflation, investor confidence or economic, political, social or financial market conditions, environmental disasters, governmental actions, public health emergencies (such as the spread of infectious diseases, pandemics and epidemics) and other similar events, that each of which may be temporary or last for extended periods. For example, the risks of a borrower’s default or bankruptcy or non-payment of scheduled interest or principal payments from senior floating rate interests held by the Trust are especially acute under these conditions. Furthermore, interest rates and bond yields may fall as a result of types of events, including responses by governmental entities to such events, which would magnify the Trust’s fixed-income instruments’ susceptibility to interest rate risk and diminish their yield and performance. Moreover, the Trust’s investments in asset-backed securities are subject to many of the same risks that are applicable to investments in securities generally, including interest rate risk, credit risk, foreign currency risk, below-investment grade securities risk, financial leverage risk, prepayment and regulatory risk, which would be elevated under the foregoing circumstances.
Different sectors, industries and security types may react differently to such developments and, when the market performs well, there is no assurance that the Trust’s investments will increase in value along with the broader markets. Volatility of financial markets, including potentially extreme volatility caused by the events described above, can expose the Trust to greater market risk than normal, possibly resulting in greatly reduced liquidity. Moreover, changing economic, political, social or financial market conditions in one country or geographic region could adversely affect the value, yield and return of the investments held by the Trust in a different country or geographic region because of the increasingly interconnected global economies and financial markets. The Adviser and Sub-Adviser potentially could be prevented from considering, managing and executing investment decisions at an advantageous time or price or at all as a result of any domestic or global market or other disruptions, particularly disruptions causing heightened market volatility and reduced market liquidity, such as the current conditions, which have also resulted in impediments to the normal functioning of workforces, including personnel and systems of the Trust’s service providers and market intermediaries.
At any point in time, your Common Shares may be worth less than your original investment, including the reinvestment of Trust dividends and distributions.
The Trust is subject to management risk because it ishas an actively managed portfolio. In acting as the Trust’s Adviser, responsible for management of the Trust’s portfolio securities, the Adviser will apply investment techniques and risk analyseis in making investment decisions for the Trust, but there can be no guarantee that these will produce the desired results.
Build America Bonds Risk
BABs are a form of municipal financing. The BABs market is smaller and less diverse than the broader municipal securities market. In addition, because the relevant provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 were not extended, bonds issued after December 31, 2010 cannot qualify as BABs. As of the date of this prospectus, there is no indication that Congress will renew the program to permit issuance of new Build America Bonds. As a result, the number of available BABs is limited, which may negatively affect the value of the BABs. In addition, there can be no assurance that BABs will continue to be actively traded. It is difficult to predict the extent to which a market for such bonds will continue, meaning that BABs may experience greater illiquidity than other municipal obligations. Because issuers of direct payment BABs held in the Trust’s portfolio receive reimbursement from the U.S. Treasury with respect to interest payments on bonds, there is a risk that those municipal issuers will not receive timely payment from the U.S. Treasury and may remain obligated to pay the full interest due on direct payment BABs held by the Trust. Under the sequestration process under the Budget Control Act of 2011, automatic spending cuts that became effective on March 1, 2013 reduced the federal subsidy for BABs and other subsidized taxable municipal bonds. In addition, pursuant to the requirements of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended, refund payments issued to and refund offset transactions for BABS are subject to sequestration. The subsidy payments were reduced by 6.6% in 2018, 6.2% in 2019, 5.9% in 2020 and 5.7% between 2021 and 2030. Furthermore, it is possible that a municipal issuer may fail to comply with the requirements to receive the direct pay subsidy or that a future Congress may further reduce or terminate the subsidy altogether. In addition, the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”) contains a general offset rule (the “IRS Offset Rule”) which allows for the possibility that subsidy payments to be received by issuers of BABs may be subject to offset against amounts owed by them to the federal government. Moreover, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) may audit the agencies issuing BABs and such audits may, among other things, examine the price at which BABs are initially sold to investors. If the IRS concludes that a BAB was mispriced based on its audit, it could disallow all or a portion of the interest subsidy received by the issuer of the BAB. The IRS Offset Rule and the disallowance of any interest subsidy as a result of an IRS audit could potentially adversely affect a BABs issuer’s credit rating, and adversely affect the issuer’s ability to repay or refinance BABs. This, in turn, could adversely affect the ratings and value of the BABs held by the Trust and the Trust’s net asset value. The IRS has withheld subsidies from several states and municipalities.
Municipal Securities Risk
The amount of public information available about municipal securities is generally less than that for corporate equities or bonds, and the investment performance of the Trust’s municipal securities investments may therefore be more dependent on the analytical abilities of the Adviser. The secondary market for municipal securities, particularly below investment grade municipal securities, also tends to be less well-developed or liquid than many other securities markets, which may adversely affect the Trust’s ability to sell such securities at prices approximating those at which the Trust may currently value them.
In addition, many state and municipal governments that issue securities are under significant economic and financial stress and may not be able to satisfy their obligations. The ability of municipal issuers to make timely payments of interest and principal may be diminished during general economic downturns and as governmental cost burdens are reallocated among federal, state and local governments. Issuers of municipal securities might seek protection under bankruptcy laws. In the event of bankruptcy of such an issuer, holders of municipal securities could experience delays in collecting principal and interest and such holders may not be able to collect all principal and interest to which they are entitled. Legislative developments may result in changes to the laws relating to municipal bankruptcies, which may adversely affect the Trust’s investments in municipal securities.
Debt Instruments Risk
The value of the Trust’s investments in debt instruments (including bonds issued by non-profit entities, municipal conduits and project finance corporations) depends on the continuing ability of the debt issuers to meet their obligations for the payment of interest and principal when due. The ability of debt issuers to make timely payments of interest and principal can be affected by a variety of developments and changes in legal, political, economic and other conditions. For example, litigation, legislation or other political events, local business or economic conditions or the bankruptcy of an issuer could have a significant effect on the ability of the issuer to make timely payments of principal and/or interest.
Investments in debt instruments present certain risks, including credit, interest rate, liquidity and prepayment risks. Issuers that rely directly or indirectly on government funding mechanisms or non-profit statutes, may be negatively affected by actions of the government, including reductions in government spending, increases in tax rates, and changes in fiscal policy.
The value of a debt instrument may decline for many reasons that directly relate to the issuer, such as a change in the demand for the issuer’s goods or services, or a decline in the issuer’s performance, earnings or assets. In addition, changes in the financial condition of an individual issuer can affect the overall market for such instruments.
Municipal Conduit Bond Risk
Municipal conduit bonds, also referred to as private activity bonds or industrial revenue bonds, are bonds issued by state and local governments or other entities for the purpose of financing the projects of certain private enterprises. Unlike municipal bonds, municipal conduit bonds are not backed by the full faith, credit or general taxing power of the issuing governmental entity. Rather, issuances of municipal conduit bonds are backed solely by revenues of the private enterprise involved. Municipal conduit bonds are therefore subject to heightened credit risk, as the private enterprise involved can have a different credit profile than the issuing governmental entity. Municipal conduit bonds may be negatively impacted by conditions affecting either the general credit of the private enterprise or the project itself. Factors such as competitive pricing, construction delays, or lack of demand for the project could cause project revenues to fall short of projections, and defaults could occur. Municipal conduit bonds tend to have longer terms and thus are more susceptible to interest rate risk.
Project Finance Risk
Project finance is a type of financing commonly used for infrastructure, industry, and public service projects. In a project finance arrangement, the cash flow generated by the project is used to repay lenders while the project’s assets, rights and interest are held as secondary collateral. Investors involved in project finance face heightened technology risk, operational risk, and market risk because the cash flow generated by the project, rather than the revenues of the company behind the project, will repay investors. In addition, because of the project-specific nature of such arrangements, the Trust face the risk of loss of investment if the company behind the project determines not to complete it.
Risks of Investing in Debt Issued by Non-Profit Institutions
Investing in debt issued by non-profit institutions, including foundations, museums, cultural institutions, colleges, universities, hospitals and healthcare systems, involves different risks than investing in municipal bonds. Many non-profit entities are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and risk losing their tax-exempt status if they do not comply with the requirements of that section. There is a risk that Congress or the IRS could pass new laws or regulations changing the requirements for tax-exempt status, which could result in a non-profit institution losing such status. Additionally, non-profit institutions that receive federal and state appropriations face the risk of a decrease in or loss of such appropriations.
Hospitals and healthcare systems are highly regulated at the federal and state levels and face burdensome state licensing requirements. There is a risk that a state could refuse to renew a hospital’s license or that the passage of new laws or regulations, especially changes to Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, could inhibit a hospital from growing its revenues. Hospitals and healthcare systems also face risks related to increased competition from other health care providers; increased costs of inpatient and outpatient care; and increased pressures from managed care organizations, insurers, and patients to cut the costs of medical care.
There is a risk that non-profit institutions relying on philanthropy and donations to maintain their operations will receive less funding during economic downturns, such as the economic crisis initially caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has placed unique pressures on hospitals and healthcare systems including decreased revenues due to postponement or cancellation of elective surgeries, non-urgent admissions, clinic visits, and research visits; shortages of staff, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, beds, and blood; and increased levels of self-paying admissions and uncompensated care due to reduced availability and affordability of health insurance. The crisis has also resulted in decreased revenues in higher education through decreased enrollment; lower revenues from student tuition, room and board; increased financial need for students; and temporary closure of on-campus research programs. In addition, the crisis pandemic has forced museums and cultural institutions to close, resulting in loss of revenues from retail, concessions, parking operations and special events held at the facilities. The crisis has also led to layoffs and cost-cutting measures among non-profits and museums, some of which may be forced out of business as a result of the pandemic.
Taxable Municipal Securities Risk
While interest earned on municipal securities is generally not subject to federal tax, any interest earned on taxable municipal securities is fully taxable at the federal level and may be subject to tax at the state level. Additionally, litigation, legislation or other political events, local business or economic conditions or the bankruptcy of the issuer could have a significant effect on the ability of an issuer of municipal securities to make payments of principal and/or interest. Political changes and uncertainties in the municipal market related to taxation, legislative changes or the rights of municipal security holders can significantly affect municipal securities. Because many securities are issued to finance similar projects, especially those relating to education, health care, transportation and utilities, conditions in those sectors can affect the overall municipal market. In addition, changes in the financial condition of an individual municipal issuer can affect the overall municipal market.
The income investors receive from the Trust is based primarily on the interest it earns from its investments in Income Securities, which can vary widely over the short- and long-term. If prevailing market interest rates drop, investors’ income from the Trust could drop as well. The Trust’s income could also be affected adversely when prevailing short-term interest rates increase and the Trust is utilizing leverage, although this risk is mitigated to the extent the Trust invests in floating-rate obligations.
Income Securities Risk
In addition to the risks discussed above, Income Securities, including high-yield bonds, are subject to certain risks, including:
Issuer Risk. The value of Income Securities may decline for a number of reasons which directly relate to the issuer, such as management performance, financial leverage, reduced demand for the issuer’s goods and services, historical and projected earnings, and the value of its assets.
Spread Risk. Spread risk is the risk that the market price can change due to broad based movements in spreads, which is particularly relevant in the current low spread environment.
Credit Risk. The Trust could lose money if the issuer or guarantor of a debt instrument or a counterparty to a derivatives transaction or other transaction (such as a repurchase agreement or a loan of portfolio securities or other instruments) is unable or unwilling, or perceived to be unable or unwilling, to pay interest or repay principal on time or defaults. If an issuer fails to pay interest, the Trust’s income would likely be reduced, and if an issuer fails to repay principal, the value of the instrument likely would fall and the Trust could lose money. This risk is especially acute with respect to below investment grade debt instruments (commonly referred to as “high-yield” or “junk” bonds) and unrated high risk debt instruments, whose issuers are particularly susceptible to fail to meet principal or interest obligations under current conditions. Also, the issuer, guarantor or counterparty may suffer adverse changes in its financial condition or be adversely affected by economic, political or social conditions that could lower the credit quality (or the market’s perception of the credit quality) of the issuer or instrument, leading to greater volatility in the price of the instrument and in shares of the Trust. Although credit quality may not accurately reflect the true credit risk of an instrument, a change in the credit quality rating of an instrument or an issuer can have a rapid, adverse effect on the instrument’s liquidity and make it more difficult for the Trust to sell at an advantageous price or time. The risk of the occurrence of these types of events is heightened under current conditions.
The degree of credit risk depends on the particular instrument and the financial condition of the issuer, guarantor or counterparty, which are often reflected in its credit quality. Credit quality is a measure of the issuer’s expected ability to make all required interest and principal payments in a timely manner. An issuer with the highest credit rating has a very strong capacity with respect to making all payments. An issuer with the second-highest credit rating has a strong capacity to make all payments, but the degree of safety is somewhat less. An issuer with the lowest credit quality rating may be in default or have extremely poor prospects of making timely payment of interest and principal. Credit ratings assigned by rating agencies are based on a number of factors and subjective judgments and therefore do not necessarily represent an issuer’s actual financial condition or the volatility or liquidity of the security. Although higher-rated securities generally present lower credit risk as compared to lower-rated or unrated securities, an issuer with a high credit rating may in fact be exposed to heightened levels of credit or liquidity risk.
Interest Rate Risk. Fixed-income and other debt instruments are subject to the possibility that interest rates could change (or are expected to change). Changes in interest rates, including changes in reference rates used in fixed-income and other debt instruments (such as LIBOR), may adversely affect the Trust’s investments in these instruments, such as the value or liquidity of, and income generated by, the investments. In addition, changes in interest rates, including rates that fall below zero, can have unpredictable effects on markets and can adversely affect the Trust’s yield, income and performance.
The value of a debt instrument with a longer duration will generally be more sensitive to interest rate changes than a similar instrument with a shorter duration. Similarly, the longer the average duration (whether positive or negative) of these instruments held by the Trust or to which the Trust is exposed (i.e., the longer the average portfolio duration of the Trust), the more the Trust’s NAV will likely fluctuate in response to interest rate changes. Duration is a measure used to determine the sensitivity of a security’s price to changes in interest rates that incorporates a security’s yield, coupon, final maturity and call features, among other characteristics. For example, the NAV per share of a bond fund with an average duration of eight years would be expected to fall approximately 8% if interest rates rose by one percentage point.
However, measures such as duration may not accurately reflect the true interest rate sensitivity of instruments held by the Trust and, in turn, the Trust’s susceptibility to changes in interest rates. Certain fixed-income and debt instruments are subject to the risk that the issuer may exercise its right to redeem (or call) the instrument earlier than anticipated. Although an issuer may call an instrument for a variety of reasons, if an issuer does so during a time of declining interest rates, the Trust might have to reinvest the proceeds in an investment offering a lower yield or other less favorable features, and therefore might not benefit from any increase in value as a result of declining interest rates. Interest only or principal only securities and inverse floaters are particularly sensitive to changes in interest rates, which may impact the income generated by the security and other features of the security.
Adjustable rate securities also react to interest rate changes in a similar manner as fixed-rate securities but generally to a lesser degree depending on the characteristics of the security, in particular its reset terms (i.e., the index chosen, frequency of reset and reset caps or floors). During periods of rising interest rates, because changes in interest rates on adjustable rate securities may lag behind changes in market rates, the value of such securities may decline until their interest rates reset to market rates. These securities also may be subject to limits on the maximum increase in interest rates. During periods of declining interest rates, because the interest rates on adjustable rate securities generally reset downward, their market value is unlikely to rise to the same extent as the value of comparable fixed rate securities. These securities may not be subject to limits on downward adjustments of interest rates.
During periods of rising interest rates, issuers of debt securities or asset-backed securities may pay principal later or more slowly than expected, which may reduce the value of a Trust’s investment in such securities and may prevent the Trust from receiving higher interest rates on proceeds reinvested in other instruments. During periods of falling interest rates, issuers of debt securities or asset-backed securities may pay off debts more quickly or earlier than expected, which could cause the Trust to be unable to recoup the full amount of its initial investment and/or cause the Trust to reinvest in lower-yielding securities, thereby reducing the Trust’s yield or otherwise adversely impacting the Trust.
Certain debt instruments, such as instruments with a negative duration or inverse instruments, are also subject to interest rate risk, although such instruments generally react differently to changes in interest rates than instruments with positive durations. The Trust’s investments in these instruments also may be adversely affected by changes in interest rates. For example, the value of instruments with negative durations, such as inverse floaters, generally decrease if interest rates decline.
The Trust’s use of leverage will tend to increase common share interest rate risk. The Trust may utilize certain strategies, including taking positions in futures or interest rate swaps, for the purpose of reducing the interest rate sensitivity of credit securities held by the Trust and decreasing the Trust’s exposure to interest rate risk. The Trust is not required to hedge its exposure to interest rate risk and may choose not to do so. In addition, there is no assurance that any attempts by the Trust to reduce interest rate risk will be successful or that any hedges that the Trust may establish will perfectly correlate with movements in interest rates.
Current Fixed-Income and Debt Market Conditions. Fixed-income and debt market conditions are highly unpredictable and some parts of the market are subject to dislocations. In response to the crisis initially caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, as with other serious economic disruptions, governmental authorities and regulators have enacted or are enacting significant fiscal and monetary policy changes, including providing direct capital infusions into companies, creating new monetary programs and lowering interest rates considerably. These actions present heightened risks to fixed-income and debt instruments, and such risks could be even further heightened if these actions are unexpectedly or suddenly reversed or are ineffective in achieving their desired outcomes. In light of these actions and current conditions, interest rates and bond yields in the United States and many other countries are at or near historic lows, and in some cases, such rates and yields are negative. The current very low or negative interest rates are magnifying the Trust’s susceptibility to interest rate risk and diminishing yield and performance. In addition, the current environment is exposing fixed-income and debt markets to significant volatility and reduced liquidity for Trust investments.
Reinvestment Risk. Reinvestment risk is the risk that income from the Trust’s portfolio will decline if the Trust invests the proceeds from matured, traded or called Income Securities at market interest rates that are below the Trust portfolio’s current earnings rate. A decline in income could affect the common shares’ market price or the overall return of the Trust.
Prepayment Risk. Certain debt instruments, including loans and mortgage- and other asset-backed securities, are subject to the risk that payments on principal may occur more quickly or earlier than expected (or an investment is converted or redeemed prior to maturity). For example, an issuer may exercise its right to redeem outstanding debt securities prior to their maturity (known as a “call”) or otherwise pay principal earlier than expected for a number of reasons (e.g., declining interest rates, changes in credit spreads and improvements in the issuer’s credit quality).If an issuer calls or “prepays” a security in which the Trust has invested, the Trust may not recoup the full amount of its initial investment and may be required to reinvest in generally lower-yielding securities, securities with greater credit risks or securities with other, less favorable features or terms than the security in which the Trust initially invested, thus potentially reducing the Trust’s yield. Income Securities frequently have call features that allow the issuer to repurchase the security prior to its stated maturity. Loans and mortgage- and other asset-backed securities are particularly subject to prepayment risk, and offer less potential for gains, during periods of declining interest rates (or narrower spreads) as issuers of higher interest rate debt instruments pay off debts earlier than expected. In addition, the Trust may lose any premiums paid to acquire the investment. Other factors, such as excess cash flows, may also contribute to prepayment risk. Thus, changes in interest rates may cause volatility in the value of and income received from these types of debt instruments.
Variable or floating rate investments may be less vulnerable to prepayment risk. Most floating rate loans and fixed-income securities allow for prepayment of principal without penalty. Accordingly, the potential for the value of a floating rate loan or security to increase in response to interest rate declines is limited. Corporate loans or fixed-income securities purchased to replace a prepaid corporate loan or security may have lower yields than the yield on the prepaid corporate loan or security.
Valuation of Certain Income Securities Risk. The Sub-Adviser may use the fair value method to value investments if market quotations for them are not readily available or are deemed unreliable, or if events occurring after the close of a securities market and before the Trust values its assets would materially affect net asset value. Because the secondary markets for certain investments may be limited, they may be difficult to value. Where market quotations are not readily available, valuation may require more research than for more liquid investments. In addition, elements of judgment may play a greater role in valuation in such cases than for investments with a more active secondary market because there is less reliable objective data available. A security that is fair valued may be valued at a price higher or lower than the value determined by other funds using their own fair valuation procedures. Prices obtained by the Trust upon the sale of such securities may not equal the value at which the Trust carried the investment on its books, which would adversely affect the net asset value of the Trust.
Duration Management Risk
The Trust’s managers expect to employ investment and trading strategies to seek to maintain the leverage-adjusted duration of the Trust’s portfolio at generally less than 15 years. Such strategies include, among others, security selection and the use of financial products. Financial products may include US treasury swaps, total return swaps and futures contracts, among others. The Trust seeks to invest in instruments that provide the Trust with protection against interest rate volatility while providing income to the Trust. Duration is a measure of a bond’s price sensitivity to changes in interest rates, expressed in years. Duration is a weighted average of the times that interest payments and the final return of principal are received. The weights are the amounts of the payments discounted by the yield to maturity of the bond.
Financial Leverage Risk
Although the use of Financial Leverage by the Trust may create an opportunity for increased after-tax total return for the Common Shares, it also results in additional risks and can magnify the effect of any losses. If the income and gains earned on securities purchased with Financial Leverage proceeds are greater than the cost of Financial Leverage, the Trust’s return will be greater than if Financial Leverage had not been used. Conversely, if the income or gains from the securities purchased with such proceeds does not cover the cost of Financial Leverage, the return to the Trust will be less than if Financial Leverage had not been used. There can be no assurance that a leverage strategy will be successful during any period during which it is employed.
Financial Leverage involves risks and special considerations for shareholders, including the likelihood of greater volatility of net asset value, market price and dividends on the Common Shares than a comparable portfolio without leverage; the risk that fluctuations in interest rates on borrowings and short-term debt or in the dividend rates on any Financial Leverage that the Trust must pay will reduce the return to the Common Shareholders; and the effect of Financial Leverage in a declining market, which is likely to cause a greater decline in the net asset value of the Common Shares than if the Trust were not leveraged, which may result in a greater decline in the market price of the Common Shares.
It is also possible that the Trust will be required to sell assets, possibly at a loss, in order to redeem or meet payment obligations on any leverage. Such a sale would reduce the Trust's net asset value and also make it difficult for the net asset value to recover. The Trust in its best judgment nevertheless may determine to continue to use Financial Leverage if it expects that the benefits to the Trust's shareholders of maintaining the leveraged position will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of Borrowings subject the Trust to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage and portfolio composition requirements. Certain Borrowings issued by the Trust also may subject the Trust to certain restrictions on investments imposed by guidelines of one or more rating agencies, which may issue ratings for such Borrowings. Such guidelines may impose asset coverage or portfolio composition requirements that are more stringent than those imposed by the 1940 Act. It is not anticipated that these covenants or guidelines will impede the Adviser from managing the Trust’s portfolio in accordance with the Trust’s investment objectives and policies.
Reverse repurchase agreements involve the risks that the interest income earned on the investment of the proceeds will be less than the interest expense and Trust expenses associated with the repurchase agreement, that the market value of the securities sold by the Trust may decline below the price at which the Trust is obligated to repurchase such securities and that the securities may not be returned to the Trust. There is no assurance that reverse repurchase agreements can be successfully employed. In connection with reverse repurchase agreements, the Trust will also be subject to counterparty risk with respect to the purchaser of the securities. If the broker/dealer to whom the Trust sells securities becomes insolvent, the Trust’s right to purchase or repurchase securities may be restricted.
Because the fees received by the Adviser are based on the Managed Assets of the Trust (including the proceeds of any Financial Leverage), the Adviser has a financial incentive for the Trust to utilize Financial Leverage, which may create a conflict of interest between the Adviser and the Common Shareholders. There can be no assurance that a leveraging strategy will be successful during any period during which it is employed.
If the cost of leverage is no longer favorable, or if the Trust is otherwise required to reduce its leverage, the Trust may not be able to maintain distributions on Common Shares at historical levels and Common Shareholders will bear any costs associated with selling portfolio securities.
Inflation risk is the risk that the value of assets or income from investments will be worth less in the future as inflation decreases the value of money. As inflation increases, the real value of the Common Shares and distributions can decline. In addition, during any periods of rising inflation, the dividend rates or borrowing costs associated with the Trust’s use of Financial Leverage would likely increase, which would tend to further reduce returns to Common Shareholders. Deflation risk is the risk that prices throughout the economy decline over time—the opposite of inflation. Deflation may have an adverse effect on the creditworthiness of issuers and may make issuer default more likely, which may result in a decline in the value of the Trust’s portfolio.
The Trust may purchase municipal securities that are secured by insurance, bank credit agreements or escrow accounts. The credit quality of the companies that provide such credit enhancements will affect the value of those securities. Certain significant providers of insurance for municipal securities have in the past incurred significant losses as a result of exposure to sub-prime mortgages and other lower credit quality investments that experienced recent defaults or otherwise suffered extreme credit deterioration. As a result, such losses reduced the insurers’ capital and called into question their continued ability to perform their obligations under such insurance if they are called upon to do so in the future. While an insured municipal security will typically be deemed to have the rating of its insurer, if the insurer of a municipal security suffers a downgrade in its credit rating or the market discounts the value of the insurance provided by the insurer, the rating of the underlying municipal security will be more relevant and the value of the municipal security would more closely, if not entirely, reflect such rating. In such a case, the value of insurance associated with a municipal security would decline and may not add any value. The insurance feature of a municipal security normally provides that it guarantees the full payment of principal and interest when due through the life of an insured obligation, but does not guarantee the market value of the insured obligation or the net asset value of the common shares attributable to such insured obligation.
Below Investment Grade Securities Risk
The Trust may invest in securities rated below investment grade (that is below Baa3 by Moody’s or below BBB- by S&P or Fitch; comparably rated by another statistical rating organization; or, if unrated, as determined by the Adviser to be of comparable credit quality), which are commonly referred to as “junk bonds”. Investment in securities of below investment grade quality involves substantial risk of loss, the risk of which is particularly acute under current conditions. Securities of below investment grade quality are considered predominantly speculative with respect to the issuer’s capacity to pay interest and repay principal when due and therefore involve a greater risk of default or decline in market value due to adverse economic and issuer-specific developments. Issuers of below investment grade securities are not perceived to be as strong financially as those with higher credit ratings. These issuers are more vulnerable to financial setbacks and recession than more creditworthy issuers, which may impair their ability to make interest and principal payments. Securities of below investment grade quality display increased price sensitivity to changing interest rates and to a deteriorating economic environment. The market values for, total return and yield for securities of below investment grade quality tend to be more volatile than the market values, total return and yield for higher-quality securities. Securities of below investment grade quality tend to be less liquid than investment grade debt securities and therefore more difficult to value accurately and sell at an advantageous price or time and may involve greater transactions costs and wider bid/ask spreads than higher-quality securities. To the extent that a secondary market does exist for certain below investment grade securities, the market for them may be subject to irregular trading activity, wide bid/ask spreads and extended trade settlement periods. Because of the substantial risks associated with investments in below investment grade securities, you could have an increased risk of losing money on your investment in Common Shares, both in the short-term and the long-term. To the extent that the Trust invests in securities that have not been rated by an NRSRO, the Trust’s ability to achieve its investment objectives will be more dependent on the Adviser’s credit analysis than would be the case when the Trust invests in rated securities.
The Trust may invest a significant portion of its managed assets in certain sectors which may subject the Trust to additional risk and variability. To the extent that the Trust focuses its managed assets in the hospital and healthcare facilities sector, for example, the Trust will be subject to risks associated with such sector, including adverse government regulation and reduction in reimbursement rates, as well as government approval of products and services and intense competition. Securities issued with respect to special taxing districts will be subject to various risks, including real-estate development related risks and taxpayer concentration risk. Further, the fees, special taxes or tax allocations and other revenues established to secure the obligations of securities issued with respect to special taxing districts are generally limited as to the rate or amount that may be levied or assessed and are not subject to increase pursuant to rate covenants or municipal or corporate guarantees. Charter schools and other private educational facilities are subject to various risks, including the reversal of legislation authorizing or Trusting charter schools, the failure to renew or secure a charter, the failure of a Trusting entity to appropriate necessary Trusts and competition from alternatives such as voucher programs. Issuers of municipal utility securities can be significantly affected by government regulation, financing difficulties, supply and demand of services or fuel and natural resource conservation. The transportation sector, including airports, airlines, ports and other transportation facilities, can be significantly affected by changes in the economy, fuel prices, maintenance, labor relations, insurance costs and government regulation.
Special Risks Related to Certain Municipal Securities
The Trust may invest in municipal leases and certificates of participation in such leases. Municipal leases and certificates of participation involve special risks not normally associated with general obligations or revenue bonds. Leases and installment purchase or conditional sale contracts (which normally provide for title to the leased asset to pass eventually to the governmental issuer) have evolved as a means for governmental issuers to acquire property and equipment without meeting the constitutional and statutory requirements for the issuance of debt. The debt issuance limitations are deemed to be inapplicable because of the inclusion in many leases or contracts of “non-appropriation” clauses that relieve the governmental issuer of any obligation to make future payments under the lease or contract unless money is appropriated for such purpose by the appropriate legislative body on a yearly or other periodic basis. In addition, such leases or contracts may be subject to the temporary abatement of payments in the event the governmental issuer is prevented from maintaining occupancy of the leased premises or utilizing the leased equipment. Although the obligations may be secured by the leased equipment or facilities, the disposition of the property in the event of non-appropriation or foreclosure might prove difficult, time consuming and costly, and may result in a delay in recovering or the failure to fully recover the Trust’s original investment. In the event of non-appropriation, the issuer would be in default and taking ownership of the assets may be a remedy available to the Trust, although the Trust does not anticipate that such a remedy would normally be pursued. To the extent that the Trust invests in unrated municipal leases or participates in such leases, the credit quality and risk of cancellation of such unrated leases will be monitored on an ongoing basis. Certificates of participation, which represent interests in unmanaged pools of municipal leases or installment contracts, involve the same risks as the underlying municipal leases. In addition, the Trust may be dependent upon the municipal authority issuing the certificates of participation to exercise remedies with respect to the underlying securities. Certificates of participation entail a risk of default or bankruptcy not only of the issuer of the underlying lease but also of the municipal agency issuing the certificate of participation.
Structured Finance Investments Risk
The Trust’s structured finance investments may include residential and commercial mortgage-related and other asset-backed securities issued by governmental entities and private issuers, ABS, structured notes, credit-linked notes and other types of structured finance securities. Holders of structured finance investments bear risks of the underlying investments, index or reference obligation and are subject to counterparty risk. The Trust may have the right to receive payments only from the structured product, and generally does not have direct rights against the issuer or the entity that sold the assets to be securitized. While certain structured finance investments enable the investor to acquire interests in a pool of securities without the brokerage and other expenses associated with directly holding the same securities, investors in structured finance investments generally pay their share of the structured product's administrative and other expenses. Although it is difficult to predict whether the prices of indices and securities underlying structured finance investments will rise or fall, these prices (and, therefore, the prices of structured finance investments) will be influenced by the same types of political and economic events that affect issuers of securities and capital markets generally. If the issuer of a structured product uses shorter term financing to purchase longer term securities, the issuer may be forced to sell its securities at below market prices if it experiences difficulty in obtaining short-term financing, which may adversely affect the value of the structured finance investment owned by the Trust. Certain structured finance securities may be thinly traded or have a limited trading market.
The Trust may invest in structured finance products collateralized by low grade or defaulted loans or securities. Investments in such structured finance products are subject to the risks associated with below investment grade securities. Such securities are characterized by high risk. It is likely that an economic recession could severely disrupt the market for such securities and may have an adverse impact on the value of such securities.
The Trust may invest in senior and subordinated classes issued by structured finance vehicles. The payment of cash flows from the underlying assets to senior classes take precedence over those of subordinated classes, and therefore subordinated classes are subject to greater risk. Furthermore, the leveraged nature of subordinated classes may magnify the adverse impact on such class of changes in the value of the assets, changes in the distributions on the assets, defaults and recoveries on the assets, capital gains and losses on the assets, prepayment on assets and availability, price and interest rates of assets.
Structured finance securities are typically privately offered and sold, and thus are not registered under the securities laws. As a result, investments in structured finance securities may be characterized by the Trust as illiquid securities; however, an active dealer market may exist which would allow such securities to be considered liquid in some circumstances.
Repurchase Agreement Risk
A repurchase agreement exposes the Trust to the risk that the party that sells the security may default on its obligation to repurchase it. The Trust may lose money because it cannot sell the security at the agreed-upon time and price or the security loses value before it can be sold.
Repurchase agreements collateralized fully by cash items, U.S. government securities or by securities issued by an issuer that the Trust’s Board of Trustees, or its delegate, has determined at the time the repurchase agreement is entered into has an exceptionally strong capacity to meet its financial obligations (“Qualifying Collateral”) and meet certain liquidity standards generally may be deemed to be “collateralized fully” and may be deemed to be investments in the underlying securities for certain purposes. The Trust may accept collateral other than Qualifying Collateral, including certain corporate debt securities, municipal debt securities, equity securities, mortgage-backed securities and other asset-backed securities, convertible securities and other securities or instruments determined by the Adviser to be in the best interests of the Trust to accept as collateral for such repurchase agreement (which may include high yield debt instruments that are rated below investment grade) (“Alternative Collateral”). Repurchase agreements secured by Alternative Collateral are not deemed to be “collateralized fully” under applicable regulations and the repurchase agreement is therefore considered a separate security issued by the counterparty to the Trust. Accordingly, the Trust must include repurchase agreements that are not “collateralized fully” in its calculations of securities issued by the selling institution held by the Trust for purposes of various portfolio diversification and concentration requirements applicable to the Trust. In addition, Alternative Collateral may not qualify as permitted or appropriate investments for the Trust under the Trust’s investment strategies and limitations. Accordingly, if a counterparty to a repurchase agreement defaults and the Trust takes possession of Alternative Collateral, the Trust may need to promptly dispose of the Alternative Collateral (or other securities held by the Trust, if the Trust exceeds a limitation on a permitted investment by virtue of taking possession of the Alternative Collateral). The Alternative Collateral may be particularly illiquid, especially in times of market volatility or in the case of a counterparty insolvency or bankruptcy, which may restrict the Trust’s ability to dispose of Alternative Collateral received from the counterparty. Depending on the terms of the repurchase agreement, the Trust may determine to sell the collateral during the term of the repurchase agreement and then purchase the same collateral at the market price at the time of the resale. (See “Short Sales”).
The SEC adopted a final rule related to the use of derivatives, short sales, reverse repurchase agreements and certain other transactions by registered investment companies that will rescind and withdraw the guidance of the SEC and its staff regarding asset segregation and coverage transactions reflected in the Trust’s asset segregation and cover practices discussed herein. Under the final rule, when the Trust trades reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions, including certain tender option bonds, it needs to aggregate the amount of indebtedness associated with the reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions with the aggregate amount of any other senior securities representing indebtedness when calculating the Trust’s asset coverage ratio or treat all such transactions as derivatives transactions. Reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions aggregated with other indebtedness do not need to be included in the calculation of whether a fund is a limited derivatives user, but if the Trust is subject to the value-at-risk (“VaR”) testing requirement, reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions must be included for purposes of such testing whether treated as derivatives transactions or not. (See “Legislation and Regulation Risk”).
Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk
Mortgage-backed securities represent an interest in a pool of mortgages. The risks associated with mortgage-backed securities include: (1) credit risk associated with the performance of the underlying mortgage properties and of the borrowers owning these properties; (2) adverse changes in economic conditions and circumstances, which are more likely to have an adverse impact on mortgage-backed securities secured by loans on certain types of commercial properties than on those secured by loans on residential properties; (3) prepayment risk, which can lead to significant fluctuations in the value of the mortgage-backed security; (4) loss of all or part of the premium, if any, paid; and (5) decline in the market value of the security, whether resulting from changes in interest rates, prepayments on the underlying mortgage collateral or perceptions of the credit risk associated with the underlying mortgage collateral. The value of mortgage-backed securities may be substantially dependent on the servicing of the underlying pool of mortgages.
When market interest rates decline, more mortgages are refinanced and the securities are paid off earlier than expected. Prepayments may also occur on a scheduled basis or due to foreclosure. When market interest rates increase, the market values of mortgage-backed securities decline. At the same time, however, mortgage refinancings and prepayments slow, which lengthens the effective maturities of these securities. As a result, the negative effect of the rate increase on the market value of mortgage-backed securities is usually more pronounced than it is for other types of debt securities. In addition, due to increased instability in the credit markets, the market for some mortgage-backed securities has experienced reduced liquidity and greater volatility with respect to the value of such securities, making it more difficult to value such securities. The Trust may invest in sub-prime mortgages or mortgage-backed securities that are backed by sub-prime mortgages.
Moreover, the relationship between prepayments and interest rates may give some high-yielding mortgage-related and asset-backed securities less potential for growth in value than conventional bonds with comparable maturities. In addition, in periods of falling interest rates, the rate of prepayments tends to increase. During such periods, the reinvestment of prepayment proceeds by the Trust will generally be at lower rates than the rates that were carried by the obligations that have been prepaid. Because of these and other reasons, mortgage-related and asset-backed securities’ total return and maturity may be difficult to predict precisely. To the extent that the Trust purchases mortgage-related and asset-backed securities at a premium, prepayments (which may be made without penalty) may result in loss of the Trust’s principal investment to the extent of premium paid.
Mortgage-backed securities generally are classified as either CMBS or RMBS, each of which are subject to certain specific risks.
Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk. The market for CMBS developed more recently and, in terms of total outstanding principal amount of issues, is relatively small compared to the market for residential single-family mortgage-related securities. CMBS are subject to particular risks, including lack of standardized terms, have shorter maturities than residential mortgage loans and provide for payment of all or substantially all of the principal only at maturity rather than regular amortization of principal. In addition, commercial lending generally is viewed as exposing the lender to a greater risk of loss than one-to-four family residential lending. Commercial lending typically involves larger loans to single borrowers or groups of related borrowers than residential one-to-four family mortgage loans. In addition, the repayment of loans secured by income producing properties typically is dependent upon the successful operation of the related real estate project and the cash flow generated therefrom. Net operating income of an income-producing property can be affected by, among other things: tenant mix, success of tenant businesses, property management decisions, property location and condition, competition from comparable types of properties, changes in laws that increase operating expense or limit rents that may be charged, any need to address environmental contamination at the property, the occurrence of any uninsured casualty at the property, changes in national, regional or local economic conditions and/or specific industry segments, declines in regional or local real estate values, declines in regional or local rental or occupancy rates, increases in interest rates, real estate tax rates and other operating expenses, change in governmental rules, regulations and fiscal policies, including environmental legislation, acts of God, terrorism, social unrest and civil disturbances. Consequently, adverse changes in economic conditions and circumstances are more likely to have an adverse impact on mortgage-related securities secured by loans on commercial properties than on those secured by loans on residential properties. Economic downturns and other events that limit the activities of and demand for commercial retail and office spaces (such as the current crisis) adversely impact the value of such securities. Additional risks may be presented by the type and use of a particular commercial property. Special risks are presented by hospitals, nursing homes, hospitality properties and certain other property types. Commercial property values and net operating income are subject to volatility, which may result in net operating income becoming insufficient to cover debt service on the related mortgage loan. The exercise of remedies and successful realization of liquidation proceeds relating to CMBS may be highly dependent on the performance of the servicer or special servicer. There may be a limited number of special servicers available, particularly those that do not have conflicts of interest.
Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk. Credit-related risk on RMBS arises from losses due to delinquencies and defaults by the borrowers in payments on the underlying mortgage loans and breaches by originators and servicers of their obligations under the underlying documentation pursuant to which the RMBS are issued. The rate of delinquencies and defaults on residential mortgage loans and the aggregate amount of the resulting losses will be affected by a number of factors, including general economic conditions, particularly those in the area where the related mortgaged property is located, the level of the borrower’s equity in the mortgaged property and the individual financial circumstances of the borrower. If a residential mortgage loan is in default, foreclosure on the related residential property may be a lengthy and difficult process involving significant legal and other expenses. The net proceeds obtained by the holder on a residential mortgage loan following the foreclosure on the related property may be less than the total amount that remains due on the loan. The prospect of incurring a loss upon the foreclosure of the related property may lead the holder of the residential mortgage loan to restructure the residential mortgage loan or otherwise delay the foreclosure process. These risks are elevated given the current distressed economic, market, health and labor conditions, notably, increased levels of unemployment, delays and delinquencies in payments of mortgage and rent obligations, and uncertainty regarding the effects and extent of government intervention with respect to mortgage payments and other economic matters.
Sub-Prime Mortgage Market Risk. The residential mortgage market in the United States has experienced difficulties that may adversely affect the performance and market value of certain mortgages and mortgage-related securities. Delinquencies and losses on residential mortgage loans (especially sub-prime and second-line mortgage loans) generally have increased recently and may continue to increase, and a decline in or flattening of housing values (as has recently been experienced and may continue to be experienced in many housing markets) may exacerbate such delinquencies and losses. Borrowers with adjustable rate mortgage loans are more sensitive to changes in interest rates, which affect their monthly mortgage payments, and may be unable to secure replacement mortgages at comparably low interest rates. Also, a number of residential mortgage loan originators have experienced serious financial difficulties or bankruptcy. Largely due to the foregoing, reduced investor demand for mortgage loans and mortgage-related securities and increased investor yield requirements have caused limited liquidity in the secondary market for mortgage-related securities, which can adversely affect the market value of mortgage-related securities. It is possible that such limited liquidity in such secondary markets could continue or worsen. If the economy of the United States deteriorates further, the incidence of mortgage foreclosures, especially sub-prime mortgages, may increase, which may adversely affect the value of any mortgage-backed securities owned by the Trust.
The significance of the mortgage crisis and loan defaults in residential mortgage loan sectors led to the enactment of numerous pieces of legislation relating to the mortgage and housing markets. These actions, along with future legislation or regulation, may have significant impacts on the mortgage market generally and may result in a reduction of available transactional opportunities for the Trust or an increase in the cost associated with such transactions and may adversely impact the value of RMBS.
During the mortgage crisis, a number of originators and servicers of residential and commercial mortgage loans, including some of the largest originators and servicers in the residential and commercial mortgage loan market, experienced serious financial difficulties. Such difficulties may affect the performance of non-agency RMBS and CMBS. There can be no assurance that originators and servicers of mortgage loans will not continue to experience serious financial difficulties or experience such difficulties in the future, including becoming subject to bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings, or that underwriting procedures and policies and protections against fraud will be sufficient in the future to prevent such financial difficulties or significant levels of default or delinquency on mortgage loans.
Asset-Backed Securities Risk
In addition to the general risks associated with credit securities discussed herein and the risks discussed under “Structured Finance Investments Risks,” ABS are subject to additional risks. ABS may be particularly sensitive to changes in prevailing interest rates. ABS involve certain risks in addition to those presented by MBS. ABS do not have the benefit of the same security interest in the underlying collateral as MBS and are more dependent on the borrower’s ability to pay and may provide the Trust with a less effective security interest in the related collateral than do MBS. There is the possibility that recoveries on the underlying collateral may not, in some cases, be available to support payments on these securities. The collateral underlying ABS may constitute assets related to a wide range of industries and sectors, such as credit card and automobile receivables or other assets derived from consumer, commercial or corporate sectors.
For example, ABS can be collateralized with credit card and automobile receivables. Credit card receivables are generally unsecured, and the debtors are entitled to the protection of a number of state and federal consumer credit laws, many of which give debtors the right to set off certain amounts owed on the credit cards, thereby reducing the balance due. These risks are elevated given the currently distressed economic, market, labor and health conditions.
Most issuers of automobile receivables permit the servicers to retain possession of the underlying obligations. If the servicer were to sell these obligations to another party, there is a risk that the purchaser would acquire an interest superior to that of the holders of the related automobile receivables. In addition, because of the large number of vehicles involved in a typical issuance and technical requirements under state laws, the trustee for the holders of the automobile receivables may not have an effective security interest in all of the obligations backing such receivables. In recent years, certain automobile manufacturers have been granted access to emergency loans from the U.S. Government and have experienced bankruptcy. As a result of these events, the value of securities backed by receivables from the sale or lease of automobiles may be adversely affected.
If the economy of the United States deteriorates, defaults on securities backed by credit card, automobile and other receivables may increase, which may adversely affect the value of any ABS owned by the Trust. In addition, these securities may provide the Trust with a less effective security interest in the related collateral than do mortgage related securities. Therefore, there is the possibility that recoveries on the underlying collateral may not, in some cases, be available to support payments on these securities.
ABS collateralized by other types of assets are subject to risks associated with the underlying collateral.
CLO, CDO and CBO Risk
In addition to the general risks associated with debt securities discussed herein and the risks discussed under “Structured Finance Investments Risks,” CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are subject to additional risks. CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are subject to risks associated with the possibility that distributions from collateral securities will not be adequate to make interest or other payments; the quality of the collateral may decline in value or default; and the complex structure of the security may not be fully understood at the time of investment and may produce disputes with the issuer or unexpected investment results.
The credit quality of CLOs, CDOs and CBOs depends primarily upon the quality of the underlying assets and the level of credit support and/or enhancement provided. The underlying assets (e.g., debt obligations) of CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are subject to prepayments, which shorten the weighted average maturity and may lower the return of the securities issued by the CLOs, CDOs and CBOs. If the credit support or enhancement is exhausted, losses or delays in payment may result if the required payments of principal and interest are not made. The transaction documents relating to the issuance of CLOs, CDOs and CBOs may impose eligibility criteria on the assets of the issuing SPV, restrict the ability of the investment manager to trade investments and impose certain portfolio-wide asset quality requirements. These criteria, restrictions and requirements may limit the ability of the SPV’s investment manager to maximize returns on the CLOs, CDOs and CBOs. In addition, other parties involved in CLOs, CDOs and CBOs, such as third party credit enhancers and investors in the rated tranches, may impose requirements that have an adverse effect on the returns of the various tranches of CLOs, CDOs and CBOs. Furthermore, CLO, CDO and CBO transaction documents generally contain provisions that, in the event that certain tests are not met (generally interest coverage and over-collateralization tests at varying levels in the capital structure), proceeds that would otherwise be distributed to holders of a junior tranche must be diverted to pay down the senior tranches until such tests are satisfied. Failure (or increased likelihood of failure) of a CLO, CDO or CBO to make timely payments on a particular tranche will have an adverse effect on the liquidity and market value of such tranche.
Payments to holders of CLOs, CDOs and CBOs may be subject to deferral. If cashflows generated by the underlying assets are insufficient to make all current and, if applicable, deferred payments on the CLOs, CDOs and CBOs, no other assets will be available for payment of the deficiency and, following realization of the underlying assets, the obligations of the issuer to pay such deficiency will be extinguished.
The value of securities issued by CLOs, CDOs and CBOs also may change because of changes in market value: changes in the market’s perception of the creditworthiness of the servicing agent of the pool, the originator of the pool, or the financial institution or fund providing the credit support or enhancement; loan performance and prices; broader sentiment and standing in the economic cycle, including expectations regarding future loan defaults; liquidity conditions; and supply and demand at the various tranche levels. Finally, CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are limited recourse and may not be paid in full and may be subject to up to 100% loss.
Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, often referred to as the “Volcker Rule,” imposes restrictions on banking entities’ ability to sponsor or invest in certain CLOs, CDOs and CBOs. These restrictions may have an adverse effect on the CLO, CDO and CBO market generally, including the availability, liquidity and value of certain CLOs, CDOs and CBOs.
The Trust may invest in any portion of the capital structure of CLOs (including the subordinated, residual and deep mezzanine debt tranches). As a result, the CLOs in which the Trust invests may have issued and sold debt tranches that will rank senior to the tranches in which the Trust invests. By their terms, such more senior tranches may entitle the holders to receive payment of interest or principal on or before the dates on which the Trust is entitled to receive payments with respect to the tranches in which the Trust invests. Also, in the event of insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of a CLO, holders of more senior tranches would typically be entitled to receive payment in full before the Trust receives any distribution. After repaying such senior creditors, such CLO may not have any remaining assets to use for repaying its obligation to the Trust. In the case of tranches ranking equally with the tranches in which the Trust invests, the Trust would have to share on an equal basis any distributions with other creditors holding such securities in the event of an insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of the relevant CLO. Therefore, the Trust may not receive back the full amount of its investment in a CLO.
CLO Subordinated Notes Risk. The Trust may invest in any portion of the capital structure of CLOs (including the subordinated, residual and deep mezzanine debt tranches). Investment in the subordinated tranche is subject to special risks. The subordinated tranche does not receive ratings and is considered the riskiest portion of the capital structure of a CLO. The subordinated tranche is junior in priority of payment to the more senior tranches of the CLO and is subject to certain payment restrictions. As a result, the subordinated tranche bears the bulk of defaults from the loans in the CLO. In addition, the subordinated tranche generally has only limited voting rights and generally does not benefit from any creditors’ rights or ability to exercise remedies under the indenture governing the CLO notes. Certain mezzanine tranches in which the Trust may invest may also be subject to certain risks similar to risks associated with investment in the subordinated tranche.
The subordinated tranche is unsecured and ranks behind all of the secured creditors, known or unknown, of the CLO issuer, including the holders of the secured notes it has issued. Consequently, to the extent that the value of the issuer’s portfolio of loan investments has been reduced as a result of conditions in the credit markets, defaulted loans, capital gains and losses on the underlying assets, prepayment or changes in interest rates, the value of the subordinated tranche realized at redemption could be reduced. If a CLO breaches certain tests set forth in the CLO’s indenture, excess cash flow that would otherwise be available for distribution to the subordinated tranche investors is diverted to prepay CLO debt investors in order of seniority until such time as the covenant breach is cured. If the covenant breach is not or cannot be cured, the subordinated tranche investors (and potentially other investors in lower priority rated tranches) may experience a partial or total loss of their investment. Accordingly, the subordinated tranche may not be paid in full and may be subject to up to 100% loss. At the time of issuance, the subordinated tranche of a CLO is typically under-collateralized in that the liabilities of a CLO at inception exceed its total assets.
The leveraged nature of subordinated notes may magnify the adverse impact on the subordinated notes of changes in the market value of the investments held by the issuer, changes in the distributions on those investments, defaults and recoveries on those investments, capital gains and losses on those investments, prepayments on those investments and availability, prices and interest rates of those investments.
Subordinated notes are not guaranteed by another party. There can be no assurance that distributions on the assets held by the CLO will be sufficient to make any distributions or that the yield on the subordinated notes will meet the Trust’s expectations. Investments in the subordinated tranche of a CLO are generally less liquid than CLO debt tranches and subject to extensive transfer restrictions, and there may be no market for subordinated notes. Therefore Trust may be required to hold subordinated notes for an indefinite period of time or until their stated maturity. Certain mezzanine tranches in which the Trust may invest may also be subject to certain risks similar to risks associated with investment in the subordinated tranche.
Risks Associated with Risk-Linked Securities
RLS are a form of derivative issued by insurance companies and insurance-related special purpose vehicles that apply securitization techniques to catastrophic property and casualty damages. Unlike other insurable low-severity, high-probability events (such as auto collision coverage), the insurance risk of which can be diversified by writing large numbers of similar policies, the holders of a typical RLS are exposed to the risks from high-severity, low-probability events such as that posed by major earthquakes or hurricanes. RLS represent a method of reinsurance, by which insurance companies transfer their own portfolio risk to other reinsurance companies and, in the case of RLS, to the capital markets. A typical RLS provides for income and return of capital similar to other fixed-income investments, but involves full or partial default if losses resulting from a certain catastrophe exceeded a predetermined amount. In essence, investors invest funds in RLS and if a catastrophe occurs that “triggers” the RLS, investors may lose some or all of the capital invested. In the case of an event, the funds are paid to the bond sponsor — an insurer, reinsurer or corporation — to cover losses. In return, the bond sponsors pay interest to investors for this catastrophe protection. RLS can be structured to pay-off on three types of variables—insurance-industry catastrophe loss indices, insure-specific catastrophe losses and parametric indices based on the physical characteristics of catastrophic events. Such variables are difficult to predict or model, and the risk and potential return profiles of RLS may be difficult to assess. Catastrophe-related RLS have been in use since the 1990s, and the securitization and risk-transfer aspects of such RLS are beginning to be employed in other insurance and risk-related areas. No active trading market may exist for certain RLS, which may impair the ability of the Trust to realize full value in the event of the need to liquidate such assets.
Risks Associated with Structured Notes
Investments in structured notes involve risks associated with the issuer of the note and the reference instrument. Where the Trust’s investments in structured notes are based upon the movement of one or more factors, including currency exchange rates, interest rates, referenced bonds and stock indices, depending on the factor used and the use of multipliers or deflators, changes in interest rates and movement of the factor may cause significant price fluctuations. Additionally, changes in the reference instrument or security may cause the interest rate on the structured note to be reduced to zero, and any further changes in the reference instrument may then reduce the principal amount payable on maturity. Structured notes may be less liquid than other types of securities and more volatile than the reference instrument or security underlying the note.
Senior Loans Risk
The Trust may invest in Senior Loans. Senior Loans typically hold the most senior position in the capital structure of the issuing entity, are typically secured with specific collateral and typically have a claim on the assets and/or stock of the borrower that is senior to that held by subordinated debt holders and stockholders of the borrower. The Trust’s investments in Senior Loans are typically below-investment grade and are considered speculative because of the credit risk of their issuers. The risks associated with Senior Loans of below-investment grade quality are similar to the risks of other lower grade Income Securities, although Senior Loans are typically senior and secured in contrast to subordinated and unsecured Income Securities. Senior Loans’ higher standing has historically resulted in generally higher recoveries in the event of a corporate reorganization. In addition, because their interest payments are adjusted for changes in short-term interest rates, investments in Senior Loans generally have less interest rate risk than other lower grade Income Securities, which may have fixed interest rates. The Trust’s investments in Senior Loans are typically below-investment grade and are considered speculative because of the credit risk of their issuers. Such companies are more likely to default on their payments of interest and principal owed to the Trust, and such defaults could reduce the Trust’s net asset value and income distributions. An economic downturn generally leads to a higher non-payment rate, and a debt obligation may lose significant value before a default occurs. Moreover, any specific collateral used to secure a Senior Loan may decline in value or become illiquid, which would adversely affect the Senior Loan’s value.
Economic and other events (whether real or perceived) can reduce the demand for certain Senior Loans or Senior Loans generally, which may reduce market prices and cause the Trust’s net asset value per share to fall. The frequency and magnitude of such changes cannot be predicted.
Loans and other debt instruments are also subject to the risk of price declines due to increases in prevailing interest rates, although floating-rate debt instruments are substantially less exposed to this risk than fixed-rate debt instruments. Interest rate changes may also increase prepayments of debt obligations and require the Trust to invest assets at lower yields. No active trading market may exist for certain Senior Loans, which may impair the ability of the Trust to realize full value in the event of the need to liquidate such assets. Adverse market conditions may impair the liquidity of some actively traded Senior Loans.
Second Lien Loans Risk
The Trust may invest in Second Lien Loans. Second Lien Loans are second in right of payment to one or more Senior Loans of the related borrower. Second Lien Loans are subject to the same risks associated with investment in Senior Loans and other lower grade Income Securities. However, Second Lien Loans are second in right of payment to Senior Loans and therefore are subject to the additional risk that the cash flow of the borrower and any property securing the loan may be insufficient to meet scheduled payments after giving effect to the senior secured obligations of the borrower. Second Lien Loans are expected to have greater price volatility and exposure to losses upon default than Senior Loans and may be less liquid. There is also a possibility that originators will not be able to sell participations in Second Lien Loans, which would create greater credit risk exposure.
Subordinated Secured Loans Risk
Subordinated secured loans generally are subject to similar risks as those associated with investment in Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans and below investment grade securities. However, such loans may rank lower in right of payment than any outstanding Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans or other debt instruments with higher priority of the borrower and therefore are subject to additional risk that the cash flow of the borrower and any property securing the loan may be insufficient to meet scheduled payments and repayment of principal in the event of default or bankruptcy after giving effect to the higher ranking secured obligations of the borrower. Subordinated secured loans are expected to have greater price volatility than Senior Loans and Second Lien Loans and may be less liquid.
Unsecured Loans Risk
Unsecured Loans generally are subject to similar risks as those associated with investment in Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans, subordinated secured loans and below investment grade securities. However, because unsecured loans have lower priority in right of payment to any higher ranking obligations of the borrower and are not backed by a security interest in any specific collateral, they are subject to additional risk that the cash flow of the borrower and available assets may be insufficient to meet scheduled payments and repayment of principal after giving effect to any higher ranking obligations of the borrower. Unsecured Loans are expected to have greater price volatility than Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans and subordinated secured loans and may be less liquid.
Loans and Loan Participations and Assignments Risk
The Trust may invest in loans directly or through participations or assignments. The Trust may purchase loans on a direct assignment basis from a participant in the original syndicate of lenders or from subsequent assignees of such interests. The Trust may also purchase, without limitation, participations in loans. The purchaser of an assignment typically succeeds to all the rights and obligations of the assigning institution and becomes a lender under the credit agreement with respect to the debt obligation; however, the purchaser’s rights can be more restricted than those of the assigning institution, and, in any event, the Trust may not be able to unilaterally enforce all rights and remedies under the loan and with regard to any associated collateral. A participation typically results in a contractual relationship only with the institution participating out the interest, not with the borrower. In purchasing participations, the Trust generally will have no right to enforce compliance by the borrower with the terms of the loan agreement against the borrower, and the Trust may not directly benefit from the collateral supporting the debt obligation in which it has purchased the participation. As a result, the Trust will be exposed to the credit risk of both the borrower and the institution selling the participation. Further, in purchasing participations in lending syndicates, the Trust may not be able to conduct the same due diligence on the borrower with respect to a Senior Loan that the Trust would otherwise conduct. In addition, as a holder of the participations, the Trust may not have voting rights or inspection rights that the Trust would otherwise have if it were investing directly in the Senior Loan, which may result in the Trust being exposed to greater credit or fraud risk with respect to the borrower or the Senior Loan. Lenders selling a participation and other persons interpositioned between the lender and the Trust with respect to a participation will likely conduct their principal business activities in the banking, finance and financial services industries. Because the Trust may invest in participations, the Trust may be more susceptible to economic, political or regulatory occurrences affecting such industries.
Should a loan in which the Trust is invested be foreclosed on, the Trust may become owner of the collateral and will be responsible for any costs and liabilities associated with owning the collateral. If the collateral includes a pledge of equity interests in the borrower by its owners, the Trust may become the owner of equity in the borrower and may be responsible for the borrower's business operations and/or assets. The applicability of the securities laws is subject to court interpretation of the nature of the loan and its characterization as a security. Accordingly, the Trust cannot be certain of any protections it may be afforded under the securities or other laws against fraud or misrepresentation.
The Trust invests in or is exposed to loans and other similar debt obligations that are sometimes referred to as “covenant-lite” loans or obligations, which are generally subject to more risk than investments that contain traditional financial maintenance covenants and financial reporting requirements.
Unfunded Commitments Risk. Certain of the loan participations or assignments acquired by the Trust may involve unfunded commitments of the lenders, revolving credit facilities, delayed draw credit facilities or other investments under which a borrower may from time to time borrow and repay amounts up to the maximum amount of the facility. In such cases, the Trust would have an obligation to advance its portion of such additional borrowings upon the terms specified in the loan documentation. Such an obligation may have the effect of requiring the Trust to increase its investment in a company at a time when it might not be desirable to do so (including at a time when the company’s financial condition makes it unlikely that such amounts will be repaid). These commitments are generally subject to the borrowers meeting certain criteria such as compliance with covenants and certain operational metrics. The terms of the borrowings and financings subject to commitment are comparable to the terms of other loans and related investments in the Trust’s portfolio.
The Trust may invest in municipal securities that are, at the time of investment, illiquid. Illiquid securities are securities that cannot be disposed of within seven days in the ordinary course of business at approximately the value that the Trust values the securities. Illiquid securities may trade at a discount from comparable, more liquid securities and may be subject to wide fluctuations in market value. The Trust may be subject to significant delays in disposing of illiquid securities. Accordingly, the Trust may be forced to sell these securities at less than fair market value or may not be able to sell them when the Adviser believes it is desirable to do so. Illiquid securities also may entail registration expenses and other transaction costs that are higher than those for liquid securities. Restricted securities (i.e., securities subject to legal or contractual restrictions on resale) may be illiquid. However, some restricted securities (such as securities issued pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”) and certain commercial paper) may be treated as liquid for these purposes. Inverse floating-rate securities or the residual interest certificates of tender option bond trusts are not considered illiquid securities. Dislocations in certain parts of markets are resulting in reduced liquidity for certain investments. It is uncertain when financial markets will improve. Liquidity of financial markets may also be affected by government intervention.
The use of financial leverage by the Trust will cause the net asset value, and possibly the market price, of the Trust's common shares to fluctuate significantly in response to changes in interest rates and other economic indicators. In addition, the Trust may invest up to 20% of its managed assets in below investment grade securities (i.e., "junk bonds"), which may be less liquid and therefore more volatile than investment grade municipal securities. As a result, the net asset value and market price of the common shares of the Trust will be more volatile than those of a closed-end investment company that is not exposed to leverage or that does not invest in below investment grade securities. In a declining market, the use of leverage may result in a greater decline in the net asset value of the Common Shares than if the Trust were not leveraged.
Inverse Floating-Rate Securities Risk
Under current market conditions, the Trust anticipates utilizing financial leverage through Indebtedness and/or engaging in reverse repurchase agreements. However, the Trust also may utilize financial leverage through investments in inverse floating-rate securities (sometimes referred to as “inverse floaters”). Typically, inverse floating-rate securities represent beneficial interests in a special purpose trust (sometimes called a “tender option bond trust”) formed by a third party sponsor for the purpose of holding municipal bonds. Distributions on inverse floating-rate securities bear an inverse relationship to short-term municipal bond interest rates. In general, income on inverse floating-rate securities will decrease, or in the extreme be eliminated, when interest rates increase and increase when interest rates decrease. Investments in inverse floating-rate securities may subject the Trust to the risks of reduced or eliminated interest payments and losses of principal. Short-term interest rates are at historic lows and may be more likely to rise in the current market environment. Inverse floating-rate securities may increase or decrease in value at a greater rate than the underlying interest rate, which effectively leverages the Trust’s investment. As a result, the market value of such securities generally will be more volatile than that of fixed-rate securities. Inverse floating-rate securities have varying degrees of liquidity based, among other things, upon the liquidity of the underlying securities deposited in a special purpose trust. The Trust may invest in taxable inverse floating-rate securities, issued by special purpose trusts formed with taxable municipal securities. The market for such inverse floating-rate securities issued by special purpose trusts formed with taxable municipal securities is relatively new and undeveloped. Initially, there may be a limited number of counterparties, which may increase the credit risks, counterparty risk and liquidity risk of investing in taxable inverse floating-rate securities. The leverage attributable to such inverse floating-rate securities may be “called away” on relatively short notice and therefore may be less permanent than more traditional forms of financial leverage. In certain circumstances, to the extent the Trust relies on inverse floating-rate securities to achieve its desired effective leverage ratio the likelihood of an increase in the volatility of net asset value and market price of the common shares may be greater. To the extent the Trust relies on inverse floating-rate securities to achieve its desired effective leverage ratio, the Trust may be required to sell its inverse floating-rate securities at less than favorable prices, or liquidate other Trust portfolio holdings in certain circumstances.
UK Departure from EU (“Brexit”) Risk
On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom officially withdrew from the European Union (“EU”) and the two sides entered into a transition phase, scheduled to conclude on December 31, 2020, where the United Kingdom effectively remains in the EU from an economic perspective, but no longer has any political representation in the EU parliament. During this transition phase, which could be extended beyond December of 2020, the United Kingdom is expected to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU. Due to political uncertainty, it is not possible to anticipate whether the United Kingdom and the EU will be able to agree and implement a new trade agreement or what the nature of such trade arrangement will be. Throughout the withdrawal process and afterward, the impact on the United Kingdom and Economic and Monetary Union and the broader global economy is unknown but could be significant and could result in increased volatility and illiquidity and potentially lower economic growth. The political divisions surrounding Brexit within the United Kingdom, as well as those between the UK and the EU, may also have a destabilizing impact on the economy and currency of the United Kingdom and the EU. Any further exits from member states of the EU, or the possibility of such exits, would likely cause additional market disruption globally and introduce new legal and regulatory uncertainties.
In addition to the effects on the Trust’s investments in European issuers, the unavoidable uncertainties and events related to Brexit could negatively affect the value and liquidity of the Trust’s other investments, increase taxes and costs of business and cause volatility in currency exchange rates and interest rates. Brexit could adversely affect the performance of contracts in existence at the date of Brexit and European, UK or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets. Brexit could also lead to legal uncertainty and politically divergent national laws and regulations as a new relationship between the UK and EU is defined and as the UK determines which EU laws to replace or replicate. In addition, Brexit could lead to further disintegration of the EU and related political stresses (including those related to sentiment against cross border capital movements and activities of investors like the Trust), prejudice to financial services businesses that are conducting business in the EU and which are based in the UK, legal uncertainty regarding achievement of compliance with applicable financial and commercial laws and regulations in view of the expected steps to be taken pursuant to or in contemplation of Brexit. Any of these effects of Brexit, and others that cannot be anticipated, could adversely affect the Trust’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
The result of Brexit, the progression of the European debt crisis and the possibility of one or more Eurozone countries exiting the European Monetary Union (the “EMU”), or even the collapse of the euro as a common currency, has created significant volatility in currency and financial markets generally. The effects of the collapse of the euro, or of the exit of one or more countries from the EMU, on the U.S. and global economies and securities markets are impossible to predict and any such events could have a significant adverse impact on the value and risk profile of the Trust’s portfolio. Any partial or complete dissolution of the EMU could have significant adverse effects on currency and financial markets, and on the values of the Trust’s portfolio investments. If one or more EMU countries were to stop using the euro as its primary currency, the Trust’s investments in such countries may be redenominated into a different or newly adopted currency. As a result, the value of those investments could decline significantly and unpredictably. In addition, securities or other investments that are redenominated may be subject to foreign currency risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk to a greater extent than similar investments currently denominated in euros. To the extent a currency used for redenomination purposes is not specified in respect of certain EMU-related investments, or should the euro cease to be used entirely, the currency in which such investments are denominated may be unclear, making such investments particularly difficult to value or dispose of. The Trust may incur additional expenses to the extent it is required to seek judicial or other clarification of the denomination or value of such securities.
The Trust’s investments and payment obligations may be based on floating rates, such as London Interbank Offer Rate (“LIBOR”), Euro Interbank Offered Rate and other similar types of reference rates (each, a “Reference Rate”). On July 27, 2017, the Chief Executive of the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), which regulates LIBOR, announced that the FCA will no longer persuade nor require banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR and certain other Reference Rates after 2021. Such announcement indicates that the continuation of LIBOR and other Reference Rates on the current basis cannot and will not be guaranteed after 2021. This announcement and any additional regulatory or market changes may have an adverse impact on the Trust or its investments.
In advance of 2021, regulators and market participants will work together to identify or develop successor Reference Rates. Additionally, prior to 2021, it is expected that market participants will focus on the transition mechanisms by which the Reference Rates in existing contracts or instruments may be amended, whether through market wide protocols, fallback contractual provisions, bespoke negotiations or amendments or otherwise. The transition process might lead to increased volatility and illiquidity in markets for instruments with terms tied to LIBOR. It could also lead to a reduction in the interest rates on, and the value of, some LIBOR-based investments and reduce the effectiveness of hedges mitigating risk in connection with LIBOR-based investments. Although some LIBOR-based instruments may contemplate a scenario where LIBOR is no longer available by providing for an alternative rate-setting methodology and/or increased costs for certain LIBOR-related instruments or financing transactions, others may not have such provisions and there may be significant uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of any such alternative methodologies. Additionally, because such provisions may differ across instruments (e.g., hedges versus cash positions hedged), LIBOR’s cessation may give rise to basis risk and render hedges less effective. As the usefulness of LIBOR as a benchmark could deteriorate during the transition period, these effects and related adverse conditions could occur prior to the end of 2021. There also remains uncertainty and risk regarding the willingness and ability of issuers to include enhanced provisions in new and existing contracts or instruments, notwithstanding significant efforts by the industry to develop robust LIBOR replacement clauses. The effect of any changes to, or discontinuation of, LIBOR on the Trust will vary depending, among other things, on (1) existing fallback or termination provisions in individual contracts and the possible renegotiation of existing contracts and (2) whether, how, and when industry participants develop and adopt new reference rates and fallbacks for both legacy and new products and instruments. Trust investments may also be tied to other interbank offered rates and currencies, which also will face similar issues.
Certain classes of instruments invested in by the Trust may be more sensitive to LIBOR cessation than others. For example, certain asset classes such as floating rate notes may not contemplate a LIBOR cessation and/or might freeze a last-published or last-used LIBOR rate for all future payment dates upon a discontinuation of LIBOR. Also, for example, syndicated and other business loans tied to LIBOR may not provide a clear roadmap for LIBOR’s replacement, leaving any future adjustments to the determination of a quantum of lenders. Securitizations and other asset-backed transactions may experience disruption as a result of inconsistencies between when collateral assets shift from LIBOR and what rate those assets replace LIBOR with, on the one hand, and when the securitization notes shift from LIBOR and what rate the securitization notes replace LIBOR with.
At this time, it is not possible to completely identify or predict the effect of any such changes, any establishment of alternative Reference Rates or any other reforms to Reference Rates that may be enacted in the UK or elsewhere. The elimination of a Reference Rate or any other changes or reforms to the determination or supervision of Reference Rates could have an adverse impact on the market for or value of any securities or payments linked to those Reference Rates and other financial obligations held by the Trust or on its overall financial condition or results of operations. In addition, any substitute Reference Rate and any pricing adjustments imposed by a regulator or by counterparties or otherwise may adversely affect the Trust’s performance and/or NAV.
Recent Market Developments Risk
Periods of market volatility remain, and may continue to occur in the future, in response to various political, social and economic events both within and outside of the United States. These conditions have resulted in, and in many cases continue to result in, greater price volatility, less liquidity, widening credit spreads and a lack of price transparency, with many securities remaining illiquid and of uncertain value. Such market conditions may adversely affect the Trust, including by making valuation of some of the Trust’s securities uncertain and/or result in sudden and significant valuation increases or declines in the Trust’s holdings. If there is a significant decline in the value of the Trust’s portfolio, this may impact the asset coverage levels for the Trust’s outstanding leverage.
Risks resulting from any future debt or other economic crisis could also have a detrimental impact on the global economic recovery, the financial condition of financial institutions and the Trust’s business, financial condition and results of operation. Market and economic disruptions have affected, and may in the future affect, consumer confidence levels and spending, personal bankruptcy rates, levels of incurrence and default on consumer debt and home prices, among other factors. To the extent uncertainty regarding the U.S. or global economy negatively impacts consumer confidence and consumer credit factors, the Trust’s business, financial condition and results of operations could be significantly and adversely affected. Downgrades to the credit ratings of major banks could result in increased borrowing costs for such banks and negatively affect the broader economy. Moreover, Federal Reserve policy, including with respect to certain interest rates, may also adversely affect the value, volatility and liquidity of dividend- and interest-paying securities. Market volatility, rising interest rates and/or unfavorable economic conditions could impair the Trust’s ability to achieve its investment objectives.
The outbreak of COVID-19 is causing materially reduced consumer demand and economic output, disrupting supply chains, resulting in market closures, travel restrictions and quarantines, and adversely impacting local and global economies. As with other serious economic disruptions, governmental authorities and regulators are responding to this crisis with significant fiscal and monetary policy changes, including by providing direct capital infusions into companies, introducing new monetary programs and considerably lowering interest rates, which, in some cases resulted in negative interest rates. These actions, including their possible unexpected or sudden reversal or potential ineffectiveness, could further increase volatility in securities and other financial markets, reduce market liquidity, heighten investor uncertainty and adversely affect the value of the Trust’s investments and the performance of the Trust.
Increasing Government and other Public Debt Risk
Government and other public debt, including municipal obligations in which the Trust invests, can be adversely affected by large and sudden changes in local and global economic conditions that result in increased debt levels. Although high levels of government and other public debt do not necessarily indicate or cause economic problems, high levels of debt may create certain systemic risks if sound debt management practices are not implemented. A high debt level may increase market pressures to meet an issuer’s funding needs, which may increase borrowing costs and cause a government or public or municipal entity to issue additional debt, thereby increasing the risk of refinancing. A high debt level also raises concerns that the issuer may be unable or unwilling to repay the principal or interest on its debt, which may adversely impact instruments held by the Trust that rely on such payments. Governmental and quasigovernmental responses to the current economic situation are increasing government and other public debt, which heighten these risks. Unsustainable debt levels can decline the valuation of currencies, and can prevent a government from implementing effective counter-cyclical fiscal policy during economic downturns or can generate or contribute to an economic downturn.
Legislation And Regulation Risk
At any time after the date hereof, legislation may be enacted that could negatively affect the issuers in which the Trust invests. Changing approaches to regulation may also have a negative impact on issuers in which the Trust invests. In addition, legislation or regulation may change the way in which the Trust is regulated. There can be no assurance that future legislation, regulation or deregulation will not have a material adverse effect on the Trust or will not impair the ability of the Trust to achieve its investment objectives.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), which was signed into law in July 2010, has resulted in significant revisions to the U.S. financial regulatory framework. The Dodd-Frank Act covers a broad range of topics, including, among many others: a reorganization of federal financial regulators; the creation of a process designed to ensure financial system stability and the resolution of potentially insolvent financial firms; the enactment of new rules for derivatives trading; the creation of a consumer financial protection watchdog; the registration and regulation of managers of private funds; the regulation of rating agencies; and the enactment of new federal requirements for residential mortgage loans. The regulation of various types of derivative instruments pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act may adversely affect the Trust or its counterparties.
In October 2020, the SEC adopted a final rule related to the use of derivatives, short sales, reverse repurchase agreements and certain other transactions by registered investment companies that will rescind and withdraw the guidance of the SEC and its staff regarding asset segregation and cover transactions reflected in the Trust’s asset segregation and cover practices discussed herein. The final rule requires Trust to trade derivatives and other transactions that create future payment or delivery obligations (except reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions) subject to VaR leverage limit, certain derivatives risk management program and reporting requirements. Generally, these requirements apply unless the Trust satisfies a “limited derivatives users” exception that is included in the final rule. Under the final rule, when the Trust trades reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions, including certain tender option bonds, it needs to aggregate the amount of indebtedness associated with the reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions with the aggregate amount of any other senior securities representing indebtedness when calculating the Trust’s asset coverage ratio or treat all such transactions as derivatives transactions. Reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions aggregated with other indebtedness do not need to be included in the calculation of whether the Trust satisfies the limited derivatives users exception, but for funds subject to the VaR testing requirement, reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions must be included for purposes of such testing whether treated as derivatives transactions or not. The SEC also provided guidance in connection with the new rule regarding the use of securities lending collateral that may limit the Trust’s securities lending activities. Compliance with these new requirements will be required after an eighteen-month transition period. Following the compliance date, these requirements may limit the ability of the Trust to use derivatives and reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions as part of its investment strategies. These requirements may increase the cost of the Trust’s investments and cost of doing business, which could adversely affect investors. The Adviser cannot predict the effects of these regulations on the Trust’s portfolio. The Adviser intends to monitor developments and seek to manage the Trust’s portfolio in a manner consistent with achieving the Trust’s investment objective, but there can be no assurance that it will be successful in doing so.
The current presidential administration has called for, and in certain instances has begun to implement, significant changes to U.S. fiscal, tax, trade, healthcare, immigration, foreign, and government regulatory policy. In this regard, there is significant uncertainty with respect to legislation, regulation and government policy at the federal level, as well as the state and local levels. Recent events have created a climate of heightened uncertainty and introduced new and difficult-to-quantify macroeconomic and political risks with potentially far-reaching implications. There has been a corresponding meaningful increase in the uncertainty surrounding interest rates, inflation, foreign exchange rates, trade volumes and fiscal and monetary policy. To the extent the U.S. Congress or the current presidential administration implements changes to U.S. policy, those changes may impact, among other things, the U.S. and global economy, international trade and relations, unemployment, immigration, corporate taxes, healthcare, the U.S. regulatory environment, inflation and other areas. Some particular areas identified as subject to potential change, amendment or repeal include the Dodd-Frank Act, including the Volcker Rule and various swaps and derivatives regulations, credit risk retention requirements and the authorities of the Federal Reserve, the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the SEC. Although the Trust cannot predict the impact, if any, of these changes to the Trust’s business, they could adversely affect the Trust’s business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. Until the Trust knows what policy changes are made and how those changes impact the Trust’s business and the business of the Trust’s competitors over the long term, the Trust will not know if, overall, the Trust will benefit from them or be negatively affected by them.
Sovereign Debt Risk
Investments in sovereign debt securities, such as foreign government debt or foreign treasury bills, involve special risks, including the availability of sufficient foreign exchange on the date a payment is due, the relative size of the debt service burden to the economy as a whole, the government debtor's policy towards the International Monetary Fund or international lenders, the political constraints to which the debtor may be subject and other political considerations. Periods of economic and political uncertainty may result in the illiquidity and increased price volatility of sovereign debt securities held by the Trust. The governmental authority that controls the repayment of sovereign debt may be unwilling or unable to repay the principal and/or interest when due in accordance with the terms of such securities due to the extent of its foreign reserves. If an issuer of sovereign debt defaults on payments of principal and/or interest, the Trust may have limited or no legal recourse against the issuer and/or guarantor. In certain cases, remedies must be pursued in the courts of the defaulting party itself. For example, there may be no bankruptcy or similar proceedings through which all or part of the sovereign debt that a governmental entity has not repaid may be collected. There can be no assurance that the holders of commercial bank loans to the same sovereign entity may not contest payments to the holders of sovereign debt in the event of default under commercial bank loan agreements.
Certain issuers of sovereign debt may be dependent on disbursements from foreign governments, multilateral agencies and others abroad to reduce principal and interest arrearages on their debt. Such disbursements may be conditioned upon a debtor’s implementation of economic reforms and/or economic performance and the timely service of such debtor’s obligations. A failure on the part of the debtor to implement such reforms, achieve such levels of economic performance or repay principal or interest when due may result in the cancellation of such third parties’ commitments to lend funds to the debtor, which may impair the debtor’s ability to service its debts on a timely basis. Foreign investment in certain sovereign debt is restricted or controlled to varying degrees, including requiring governmental approval for the repatriation of income, capital or proceeds of sales by foreign investors. These restrictions or controls may at times limit or preclude foreign investment in certain sovereign debt and increase the costs and expenses of the Trust.
As a holder of sovereign debt, the Trust may be requested to participate in the restructuring of such sovereign indebtedness, including the rescheduling of payments and the extension of further loans to debtors, which may adversely affect the Trust. There can be no assurance that such restructuring will result in the repayment of all or part of the debt. Sovereign debt risk is increased for emerging market issuers and certain emerging market countries have declared moratoria on the payment of principal and interest on external debt. Certain emerging market countries have experienced difficulty in servicing their sovereign debt on a timely basis, which has led to defaults and the restructuring of certain indebtedness.
Strategic Transactions Risk
The Trust may engage in various portfolio strategies, including derivatives transactions involving interest rate and foreign currency transactions, swaps, options and futures, for hedging and risk management purposes and to enhance total return. The use of strategic transactions to enhance total return may be particularly speculative. Strategic transactions involve risks, including the imperfect correlation between the value of such instruments and the underlying assets, the possible default of the other party to the transaction and illiquidity of the derivative instruments. Furthermore, the Trust’s ability to successfully use strategic transactions depends on the Adviser’s ability to predict pertinent market movements, which cannot be assured. The use of strategic transactions may result in losses greater than if they had not been used, may require the Trust to sell or purchase portfolio securities at inopportune times or for prices other than current market values, may limit the amount of appreciation the Trust can realize on an investment or may cause the Trust to hold a security that it might otherwise sell. Additionally, amounts paid by the Trust as premiums and cash or other assets held in margin accounts with respect to strategic transactions are not otherwise available to the Trust for investment purposes.
Synthetic Investment Risk
The Trust may be exposed to certain additional risks to the extent the Adviser uses derivatives as a means to synthetically implement the Trust’s investment strategies. If the Trust enters into a derivative instrument whereby it agrees to receive the return of a security or financial instrument or a basket of securities or financial instruments, it will typically contract to receive such returns for a predetermined period of time. During such period, the Trust may not have the ability to increase or decrease its exposure. In addition, such customized derivative instruments will likely be highly illiquid, and it is possible that the Trust will not be able to terminate such derivative instruments prior to their expiration date or that the penalties associated with such a termination might impact the Trust’s performance in a material adverse manner. Furthermore, certain derivative instruments contain provisions giving the counterparty the right to terminate the contract upon the occurrence of certain events. If a termination were to occur, the Trust’s return could be adversely affected as it would lose the benefit of the indirect exposure to the reference securities and it may incur significant termination expenses.
Counterparty risk is the risk that a counterparty to a Trust transaction (e.g., prime brokerage or securities lending arrangement or derivatives transaction) will be unable or unwilling to perform its contractual obligation to the Trust. The Trust is exposed to credit risks that the counterparty may be unwilling or unable to make timely payments or otherwise meet its contractual obligations. If the counterparty becomes bankrupt or defaults on (or otherwise becomes unable or unwilling to perform, the risk of which is particularly acute under current conditions) its payment or other obligations to the Trust, the Trust may not receive the full amount that it is entitled to receive or may experience delays in recovering the collateral or other assets held by, or on behalf of, the counterparty.
The Trust bears the risk that counterparties may be adversely affected by legislative or regulatory changes, adverse market conditions (such as the current conditions), increased competition, and/or wide scale credit losses resulting from financial difficulties of the counterparties’ other trading partners or borrowers.
The counterparty risk for cleared derivatives is generally lower than for uncleared OTC derivatives transactions since generally a clearing organization becomes substituted for each counterparty to a cleared derivative contract and, in effect, guarantees the parties’ performance under the contract as each party to a trade looks only to the clearing organization for performance of financial obligations under the derivative contract. However, there can be no assurance that a clearing organization, or its members, will satisfy its obligations to the Trust.
Securities Lending Risk
The Trust may lend its portfolio securities to banks or dealers which meet the creditworthiness standards established by the Board of Trustees. Securities lending is subject to the risk that loaned securities may not be available to the Trust on a timely basis and the Trust may therefore lose the opportunity to sell the securities at a desirable price. Any loss in the market price of securities loaned by the Trust that occurs during the term of the loan would be borne by the Trust and would adversely affect the Trust’s performance. Also, there may be delays in recovery, or no recovery, of securities loaned or even a loss of rights in the collateral should the borrower of the securities fail financially while the loan is outstanding.
Investment Funds Risk
As an alternative to holding investments directly, the Trust may also obtain investment exposure to securities in which it may invest directly by investing up to 20% of its Managed Assets in Investment Funds. Investments in Investment Funds present certain special considerations and risks not present in making direct investments in securities in which the Trust may invest. Investments in Investment Funds involve operating expenses and fees that are in addition to the expenses and fees borne by the Trust. Such expenses and fees attributable to the Trust’s investment in another Investment Fund are borne indirectly by Common Shareholders. Accordingly, investment in such entities involves expense and fee layering. To the extent management fees of Investment Funds are based on total gross assets, it may create an incentive for such entities’ managers to employ financial leverage, thereby adding additional expense and increasing volatility and risk. A performance-based fee arrangement may create incentives for an adviser or manager to take greater investment risks in the hope of earning a higher profit participation. Investments in Investment Funds frequently expose the Trust to an additional layer of financial leverage.
In October 2020, the SEC adopted certain regulatory changes and took other actions related to the ability of an investment company to invest in another investment company. These changes include, among other things, amendments to the existing regulatory framework, the adoption of new Rule 12d1-4 under the 1940 Act, and the rescission of certain exemptive relief issued by the SEC permitting such investments in excess of statutory limits and the withdrawal of certain related SEC staff no-action letters. These changes and actions may adversely impact the Trust’s investment strategies and operations, as well as those of Investment Funds.
Market Discount Risk
Shares of closed-end management investment companies frequently trade at a discount from their net asset value, which is a risk separate and distinct from the risk that the Trust’s net asset value could decrease as a result of its investment activities. Although the value of the Trust’s net assets is generally considered by market participants in determining whether to purchase or sell Common Shares, whether investors will realize gains or losses upon the sale of Common Shares will depend entirely upon whether the market price of Common Shares at the time of sale is above or below the investor’s purchase price for Common Shares.
The Trust’s net asset value will be reduced immediately following an offering of the Common Shares due to the costs of such offering, which will be borne entirely by the Trust. The sale of Common Shares by the Trust (or the perception that such sales may occur) may have an adverse effect on prices of Common Shares in the secondary market. An increase in the number of Common Shares available may put downward pressure on the market price for Common Shares. The Trust may, from time to time, seek the consent of Common Shareholders to permit the issuance and sale by the Trust of Common Shares at a price below the Trust’s then current net asset value, subject to certain conditions, and such sales of Common Shares at price below net asset value, if any, may increase downward pressure on the market price for Common Shares. These sales, if any, also might make it more difficult for the Trust to sell additional Common Shares in the future at a time and price it deems appropriate.
Whether Common Shareholder will realize a gain or loss upon the sale of Common Shares depends upon whether the market value of the Common Shares at the time of sale is above or below the price the Common Shareholder paid, taking into account transaction costs for the Common Shares, and is not directly dependent upon the Trust’s net asset value. Because the market price of Common Shares will be determined by factors such as net asset value, dividend and distribution levels (which are dependent, in part, on expenses), supply of and demand for Common Shares, stability of dividends or distributions, trading volume of Common Shares, general market and economic conditions and other factors beyond the control of the Trust, the Trust cannot predict whether Common Shares will trade at, below or above net asset value or at, below or above the public offering price for the Common Shares. Common Shares of the Trust are designed primarily for long-term investors; investors in Common Shares should not view the Trust as a vehicle for trading purposes.
Portfolio Turnover Risk
The Trust’s annual portfolio turnover rate may vary greatly from year to year. Portfolio turnover rate is not considered a limiting factor in the execution of investment decisions for the Trust. A higher portfolio turnover rate results in correspondingly greater brokerage commissions and other transactional expenses that are borne by the Trust. High portfolio turnover may result in an increased realization of net short-term capital gains by the Trust which, when distributed to common shareholders, will be taxable as ordinary income. Additionally, in a declining market, portfolio turnover may create realized capital losses. See “Taxation” in the Trust’s prospectus.
Geopolitical and Market Disruption Risk
The aftermath of the war in Iraq, instability in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East, possible terrorist attacks in the United States and around the world, growing social and political discord in the United States, the European debt crisis, the response of the international community—through economic sanctions and otherwise—to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and posture vis-a-vis Ukraine, increasingly strained relations between the United States and a number of foreign countries, including traditional allies, such as certain European countries, and historical adversaries, such as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia, and the international community generally, new and continued political unrest in various countries, such as Venezuela and Spain, the United Kingdom’s pending withdrawal from the EU and the resulting profound and uncertain impacts on the economic and political future of the United Kingdom, the exit or potential exit of one or more countries from the EU or the EMU, the EU and global financial markets, further downgrade of U.S. Government securities, the change in the U.S. president and the new administration and other similar events, may have long-term effects on the United States and worldwide financial markets and may cause further economic uncertainties in the United States and worldwide. The Trust does not know and cannot predict how long the securities markets may be affected by these events and the effects of these and similar events in the future on the U.S. economy and securities markets. The Trust may be adversely affected by abrogation of international agreements and national laws which have created the market instruments in which the Trust may invest, failure of the designated national and international authorities to enforce compliance with the same laws and agreements, failure of local, national and international organization to carry out their duties prescribed to them under the relevant agreements, revisions of these laws and agreements which dilute their effectiveness or conflicting interpretation of provisions of the same laws and agreements. The Trust may be adversely affected by uncertainties such as terrorism, international political developments, and changes in government policies, taxation, restrictions on foreign investment and currency repatriation, currency fluctuations and other developments in the laws and regulations of the countries in which it is invested and the risks associated with financial, economic, health, labor and other global market developments and disruptions.
The Trust and its service providers are currently impacted by quarantines and similar measures being enacted by governments in response to COVID-19, which are obstructing the regular functioning of business workforces (including requiring employees to work from external locations and their homes). Accordingly, certain risks described above are heightened under current conditions.
As the use of Internet technology has become more prevalent, the Trust and its service providers and markets generally have become more susceptible to potential operational risks related to intentional and unintentional events that may cause the Trust or a service provider to lose proprietary information, suffer data corruption or lose operational capacity. There can be no guarantee that any risk management systems established by the Trust, its service providers, or issuers of the securities in which the Trust invests to reduce technology and cyber security risks will succeed, and the Trust cannot control such systems put in place by service providers, issuers or other third parties whose operations may affect the Trust.
Cyber Security Risk
The Trust and its service providers are susceptible to cyber security risks that include, among other things, theft, unauthorized monitoring, release, misuse, loss, destruction or corruption of confidential and highly restricted data; denial of service attacks; unauthorized access to relevant systems, compromises to networks or devices that the Trust and its service providers use to service the Trust’s operations; or operational disruption or failures in the physical infrastructure or operating systems that support the Trust and its service providers. Cyber-attacks against or security breakdowns of the Trust or its service providers may adversely impact the Trust and its stockholders, potentially resulting in, among other things, financial losses; the inability of Trust stockholders to transact business and the Trust to process transactions; inability to calculate the Trust’s net asset value; violations of applicable privacy and other laws; regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs; and/or additional compliance costs. The Trust may incur additional costs for cyber security risk management and remediation purposes. In addition, cyber security risks may also impact issuers of securities in which the Trust invests, which may cause the Trust’s investment in such issuers to lose value. There can be no assurance that the Trust or its service providers will not suffer losses relating to cyber-attacks or other information security breaches in the future.
To qualify for the favorable U.S. federal income tax treatment generally accorded to RICs under the Code, the Trust must, among other things, derive in each taxable year at least 90% of its gross income from certain prescribed sources, meet certain asset diversification tests, and distribute for each taxable year at least 90% of its “investment company taxable income” (generally, ordinary income plus the excess, if any, of net short-term capital gain over net long-term capital loss). If for any taxable year the Trust does not qualify as a RIC, all of its taxable income for that year (including its net capital gain) would be subject to tax at regular corporate rates without any deduction for distributions to shareholders, and such distributions would be taxable as ordinary dividends to the extent of the Trust’s current and accumulated earnings and profits.
Anti-Takeover Provisions in the Trust’s Governing Documents
The Trust’s Governing Documents include provisions that could limit the ability of other entities or persons to acquire control of the Trust or convert the Trust to an open-end management investment company. These provisions could deprive the Common Shareholders of opportunities to sell their Common Shares at the net asset value per share or at a premium over the then-current market price of the Common Shares, outside of tender offers by the Trust, if any.
Guggenheim Investments represents the investment management business of Guggenheim Partners, LLC ("Guggenheim"). Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC is an affiliate of Guggenheim.
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