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What is swing pricing?

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The problem

In March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., investors pulled more than $100 billion out of corporate investment-grade and high-yield bond mutual funds, forcing funds to sell some of their holdings. The spread between corporate bond yields and U.S. Treasuries (a market that had its own dysfunction) widened, transaction costs rose, and issuance of new bonds came to a halt, disrupting the flow of credit to the nation’s corporations. This led the Federal Reserve to intervene by offering, for the first time, to buy corporate bonds and exchange traded corporate bond funds in what proved a successful effort to keep credit to corporations flowing. It was an extraordinary move that underscores the risks these funds pose to financial stability. (For details, see this Federal Reserve note.)

The growth of open-end fixed income funds magnifies the systemic significance of the tension between shareholders’ expectations…

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