No doubt, 2014 has been a good year for municipal bond investors.
Through the first 10 months of the year, the Barclays Municipal Bond
Index is up 8.3%. Among major asset groups, that return trails only the
Standard & Poor’s 500 index of large-cap stocks.
In just a few months, oil has plunged roughly 25%, with Tuesday’s
closing price of just over $77 for a barrel of West Texas crude marking
its lowest level in more than three years. Gasoline at the pump is going
for less than $3 a gallon in much of the country. For U.S. businesses
and consumers, oil’s freefall amounts to an economic windfall.
It’s official. Quantitative easing in the U.S. is over. Now our
collective attention turns to the next watershed moment in the
monetary-tightening cycle — when the Federal Reserve makes its first
move to raise interest rates.