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Investment outlook

20/20 vision: A clearer path for growth

Global Investment Committee
Bringing together the most senior investors from across our platform of core and specialist capabilities, including all public and private markets
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Viewpoints from the Global Investment Committee

We created our 2020 market and investment theme, “20/20 vision: a clearer path for growth,” well before the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing global recession and equity bear market. But this theme still resonates as we continue to emerge from that recession. Growth is recovering, but income generation is more challenging than ever and areas of the global financial markets appear fully valued. Nevertheless, Nuveen’s Global Investment Committee still sees opportunities across asset classes and remains committed to offering our clients ideas for navigating today’s markets – for today and tomorrow.
More from the Global Investment Committee


Views from the TIAA General Account

Nick Liolis,  TIAA General Account
Managing the threat of low rates: build a resilient portfolio
The question seems to come up consistently in investment meetings and in every conversation with fellow investors – from retirement plans managing their asset/ liability mix, insurance companies providing guaranteed income and individual investors looking to generate cash: How risky is the lower-for-longer interest rate environment? My answer: It’s an enormous risk. In fact, it can be considered an existential threat for some investors.

My team and I have to find new ways to create a sustainable retirement experience for our plan participants. Investments like traditional bond funds that used to provide solid single-digit annual returns now struggle to provide a long-term return above zero. And that’s an issue that all investors grapple with.

Critically, the answer is not just about finding more yield. First, we all need to change our mindset and approach. As conditions get tighter, we must increase our discipline and carefully catalogue our risk profiles. It’s more important than ever to focus on the risks we’re comfortable taking as we look to generate more income. Furthermore, we need to work as hard as we can to diversify those sources of income, knowing that the risks we are concerned with today may be different than those that impact us tomorrow. This is an important consideration for long-term investing.

Which leads us to a phrase I’ve been using a lot lately: Now is the time to build a resilient investment portfolio. Proper long-term investing is not about taking outsized risks, hoping to time the markets correctly. Rather, it’s about taking a long-term view and finding investments that can succeed in a variety of economic scenarios.

So what are we doing? We carefully analyzed our risk profile in the General Account and are deliberately taking on more illiquidity risk, through allocations to assets such as middle market loans and a host of real assets. You’ll read about two in particular in the following sections of our outlook: industrial real estate and farmland, which offer yield premiums in exchange for less liquidity while also providing some protection against inflation. We’re also taking on different kinds of credit risk by shifting into areas like private commercial mortgages.

These sorts of shifts may be specific to the needs and advantages of the General Account, but the themes can be applied to almost all institutional and individual investors: Think long-term, diversify your sources of income, identify your specific investment advantages, be deliberate about what risks you are willing to take and focus on portfolio resiliency.

One final point: Today is also the time for investors to think about who they trust to help manage their assets. I firmly believe in the advantages of partnering with investment managers and plan providers who have the financial strength and ability to socialize risks across broad asset pools, who have proven track records of finding income opportunities and significant experience in creating sustainable and resilient portfolios.

As part of his participation in Nuveen’s Global Investment Committee, Nick Liolis offers his perspective as an institutional investor and asset allocator. Neither Nick nor any other member of the TIAA General Account team are involved in portfolio management decisions for any third-party Nuveen strategies.


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Dimitri Stathopoulos
United States
Endnotes
Sources
All market and economic data from Bloomberg, FactSet and Morningstar.

The views and opinions expressed are for informational and educational purposes only as of the date of production/writing and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors, such as market or other conditions, legal and regulatory developments, additional risks and uncertainties and may not come to pass. This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature.

Such information may include, among other things, projections, forecasts, estimates of market returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the information presented herein by way of example. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk; principal loss is possible.

All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such.

Glossary
Alerian MLP Index is the leading gauge of energy Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs). The float-adjusted, capitalization-weighted index, whose constituents represent approximately 85% of total float-adjusted market capitalization, is disseminated in real-time on a price-return basis (AMZ) and on a total-return basis (AMZX). Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Municipal Bond Index is an unmanaged index consisting of noninvestment-grade, unrated or below Ba1 bonds. Bloomberg Barclays Corporate High Yield 2% Issuer Capped Index measures the USD-denominated, highyield, fixed-rate corporate bond market and limits each issuer to 2% of the index. Bloomberg Barclays Municipal Bond Index covers the USD denominated long-term tax-exempt bond market. The index has four main sectors: state and local general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, insured bonds, and prerefunded bonds. Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based flagship benchmark that measures the investment grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. The index includes Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities, MBS (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), ABS and CMBS (agency and non-agency) Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond Index measures the investment grade, fixed-rate, taxable corporate bond market. It includes USD denominated securities publicly issued by U.S. and non-U.S. industrial, utility and financial issuers. Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Bond Index measures the USD-denominated, high yield, fixed-rate corporate bond market. Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) Index tracks agency mortgage-backed passthrough securities. Bloomberg Barclays U.S. TIPS Index is an unmanaged index that includes all publicly issued, U.S. Treasury inflation-protected securities that have at least one year remaining to maturity, are rated investment grade, and have $250 million or more of outstanding face value. Cliffwater Direct Lending Index (CDLI) seeks to measure the unlevered, gross of fee performance of U.S. middle market corporate loans, as represented by the asset-weighted performance of the underlying assets of Business Development Companies. Credit Suisse Leveraged Loan Index is designed to mirror the investable universe of the $US-denominated leveraged loan market. ICE BofA Preferred Stock Fixed Rate Index is designed to replicate the total return of a diversified group of investment-grade preferred securities. S&P Global Infrastructure Index is designed to track 75 companies from around the world chosen to represent the listed infrastructure industry while maintaining liquidity and tradability. To create diversified exposure, the index includes three distinct infrastructure clusters: energy, transportation, and utilities. JPMorgan Emerging Market Bond Index tracks the performance of bonds issued by developing countries. MSCI ACWI Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed and emerging markets. MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure equity market performance of emerging markets. MSCI US REIT Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that is comprised of Equity REIT securities. The MSCI US REIT Index includes securities with exposure to core real estate (e.g. residential and retail properties) as well as securities with exposure to other types of real estate (e.g. casinos, theaters). MSCI World High Dividend Yield Index targets companies with high dividend income and quality characteristics and includes companies that have higher than average dividend yields that are both sustainable and persistent. NCREIF Property Index is a quarterly time series composite total rate of return measure of investment performance of a very large pool of individual commercial real estate properties acquired in the private market for investment purposes only. S&P 500 Index is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large-cap U.S. equities. The index includes 500 leading companies and captures approximately 80% coverage of available market capitalization. S&P U.S. Treasury Bond 1-3 Year Index is designed to measure the performance of U.S. Treasury bonds maturing in 1 to 3 years. S&P U.S. Treasury Bond 7-10 Year Index is designed to measure the performance of U.S. Treasury bonds maturing in 7 to 10 years.

A word on risk
All investments carry a certain degree of risk and there is no assurance that an investment will provide positive performance over any period of time. Equity investing involves risk. Investments are also subject to political, currency and regulatory risks. These risks may be magnified in emerging markets. Diversification is a technique to help reduce risk. There is no guarantee that diversification will protect against a loss of income. Investing in municipal bonds involves risks such as interest rate risk, credit risk and market risk, including the possible loss of principal. The value of the portfolio will fluctuate based on the value of the underlying securities. There are special risks associated with investments in high yield bonds, hedging activities and the potential use of leverage. Portfolios that include lower rated municipal bonds, commonly referred to as “high yield” or “junk” bonds, which are considered to be speculative, the credit and investment risk is heightened for the portfolio. Credit ratings are subject to change. AAA, AA, A, and BBB are investment grade ratings; BB, B, CCC/CC/C and D are below-investment grade ratings. As an asset class, real assets are less developed, more illiquid, and less transparent compared to traditional asset classes. Investments will be subject to risks generally associated with the ownership of real estate-related assets and foreign investing, including changes in economic conditions, currency values, environmental risks, the cost of and ability to obtain insurance, and risks related to leasing of properties. Socially Responsible Investments are subject to Social Criteria Risk, namely the risk that because social criteria exclude securities of certain issuers for non-financial reasons, investors may forgo some market opportunities available to those that don’t use these criteria. Investors should be aware that alternative investments including private equity and private debt are speculative, subject to substantial risks including the risks associated with limited liquidity, the use of leverage, short sales and concentrated investments and may involve complex tax structures and investment strategies. Alternative investments may be illiquid, there may be no liquid secondary market or ready purchasers for such securities, they may not be required to provide periodic pricing or valuation information to investors, there may be delays in distributing tax information to investors, they are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as other types of pooled investment vehicles, and they may be subject to high fees and expenses, which will reduce profits. Alternative investments are not appropriate for all investors and should not constitute an entire investment program. Investors may lose all or substantially all of the capital invested. The historical returns achieved by alternative asset vehicles is not a prediction of future performance or a guarantee of future results, and there can be no assurance that comparable returns will be achieved by any strategy.

Nuveen provides investment advisory services through its investment specialists.